Nenana Wellness Coalition
February 26, 2013
There were 16 in attendance today, including: Kat McElroy, Jessica Durtsche, Bonnie Reed, Tim Horn, Eric Morrison, Sue Ann May, Bill Martin, Virginia Young, Rosemary Allen, Maryellen Robinson, Gabrielle, Tara and Rebecca, Bill & Emily and Earnest Troxel.
We enjoyed moose tamale pie, spaghetti with red sauce, mixed green salad, whole grain bread with butter, and Ritz crackers salmon jalapeno spread and apple pie for lunch.
The Nenana Wellness Coalition is an alliance of representatives from various organizations, government agencies, community groups and individuals that meets weekly to discuss, evaluate, coordinate, consolidate, celebrate and help implement plans for improving the wellness and quality of life in Nenana Alaska.
WELCOME followed by the READING OF MISSION STATEMENT, by this week’s chair-person: Tim Horn
PRAYER was led by Rosemary Allen, followed by the PLEDGE OF ALLEGIENCE
PRESENTATION OF AGENDA AND CALL FOR MODIFICATIONS: There were no additions to the agenda.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES: Posted on the WIN link at www.railbelt.org and submitted electronically to the WIN e-list.
INTRODUCTION OF GUESTS: Eric Morrison, Sue Ann May, and Bill Martin are visiting Nenana to conduct a series of Listening Sessions; they are from the Statewide Suicide Prevention Council.
Statewide Suicide Prevention Council: Eric Morrison provided a brief overview of the Council, which was created by legislative mandate in 2002 to address the issue of suicide in Alaska. Eric is the project assistant for the Council. Bill Martin is the Chairperson for the Council; he represents the, Alaska Federation of Natives and is from Juneau. Sue Ann May is a social worker; she is from Anchorage and represents the military. The council members are all volunteers; they include representatives from the general public, the clergy and various faith communities, educators, social workers, youth workers, health and social services, survivors of suicide, the military and two state senators and two state representatives. Council members serve three year terms. Their mission is to advise the governor and legislature on issues relating to suicide. They collaborate with communities, faith-based organizations, and public-private entities to improve the health and wellness of Alaskans by reducing suicide and its effect on individuals and communities. One alarming statistic noted by Bill Martin is that once every two-and-a-half days in Alaska someone commits suicide.
As the result of two years of community meetings, council input and public comment, they have just completed a comprehensive statewide plan titled Casting the Net Upstream: Promoting Wellness to Prevent Suicide. It can be accessed at the web site: http://dhss.alaska.gov/SuicidePrevention/Documents/pdfs_sspc/SSPC_2012-2017.pdf for those interested in seeing the details. In this plan, they have identified a series of immediate, intermediate and long-term goals to reduce suicide rates in Alaska and increase wellness in our communities. The web site states: The plan is organized to reflect the most current research and understanding of the “web of causality” of suicide. Suicidal behavior results from a combination of genetic, developmental, environmental, physiological, psychological, social, and cultural factors operating in complex ways. Human beings are innately resilient but the events and experiences of a lifetime can weaken that resiliency to a point when a person becomes at risk of suicide.
The Council has a small budget so one of the strategies they are using is to send task groups to conduct Listening Sessions in communities across the many regions of Alaska. Nenana was chosen because we have a long-standing active wellness coalition, the Student Living Center which has youth from all over the state and represent the demographics and dynamics of the Interior. They will conduct similar sessions this year in the Northern and Southwestern regions.
Eric discussed some of the goals they Council have set forth. One of these is to mandate that all educators in Alaska receive two hours of suicide prevention training annually; he mentioned the Kognito Avatar training program which is an online, interactive gatekeeper training simulation designed to prepare high school teachers and staff to recognize the common indicators of psychological distress and approach an at-risk student for referral to the appropriate school support service. He also discussed their Postvention Plan and campaigns. Postvention is the word used for responsibly reacting to a suicide because any suicide can affect many people across all domains of a community. Suicide Postvention responses include supporting and providing resources to people grieving the loss to suicide, promoting safe messaging to reduce suicide contagion, providing additional support services to those affected by and most vulnerable from the suicide, and implementing procedures for healthy community recovery.
The Council members all agreed that they had heard many important themes in their Listening Sessions here in Nenana, with the students at the Living Center and with community members at the tribal hall. They remarked upon the cooperation they see between entities in Nenana: the city, school, tribe, emergency, medical and behavioral health services. They noted what a great resource the Student Living Center is to our community and the benefits for the youth there. They said they felt that Nenana has done a good job neutralizing stigma around addiction and mental health issues and developed a sense of connectedness between community members despite differences. They indicated they felt Nenana could serve as a model for what can work to develop healthier communities.
Discussion ensued regarding the Council’s role in helping to set policy, its focus and the extent of its sphere of influence and how communities foster or impede wellness. Eric indicated that a report of their findings would be generated; he agreed to provide us with a copy of that report.
Nenana Health Fair: March 27th will mark our 7th annual Nenana health Fair. Tim represented WIN at the Ice Classic meeting last week and they have agreed to donate $500.00 to the Health Fair. This will cover our site fee to the Alaska health Fair, Inc. which defrays their expenses for the staff to cover blood draws, registration & exit interviews, and materials and supplies. Both the Junior High and High School Health classes will be doing displays for the fair. Tim says that Sharon Phillips affirms she will participate in WIN next week. The next planning meeting shall be Thursday, 10 AM, at Jeannie Bennet’s home.
WELLNESS THOUGHT: And the least shall not be last. Sufi wisdom
Rebecca: Had her baby. He managed to tie his umbilical cord into knots, one of which was a figure eight, clever fellow. Welcome William Earnest Scott Troxel, called Earnest.
Bill: The Fire Department/EMS are holding an Open House March 13th, 5-9 PM. This will include some informal training for the public by Chuck Hugny. The EMS received a much-needed seven thousand dollar grant from GVEA for non-reusable medical supplies.
Bonnie: Tripod Days this weekend. She brought apple pie today in honor of the Baha’i holiday of Ayyám-i-Há.
Virginia: The Baha’i children’s class will be singing and bringing small gifts to the Meda Lord Center residents in celebration of Ayyám-i-Há. Thursday evening they will be conducting a Game Night there 7-8:30 PM.
Jessica: Andreas would like to come to WIN to talk to us about efforts underway to complete construction on the soccer field.
David: The Nenana Cross Country Ski Team made an overnight ski trip into a wilderness cabin in the White Mountains. Temperatures were between five and twenty below. They skied seven miles in and seven miles out. He has been volunteered to help the Fire Department and the Lion’s Club organize and implement the Tripod Days weight pull. He understands there will be a human weight pull, too, but no prizes for that.
Tim: March 4th the Nenana Book Club will be meeting at Karen Harvey’s house at 7 PM to discuss A History of The World In Six Glasses.
March 5th David Poppe will be preview his 20 minute PowerPoint on Nenana Urban Farm, titled Starting Where You’re At. He will present this next month at the Sustainable Agriculture Conference in Fairbanks.
Tara: Would like to encourage everyone who cares about our elder Howard Luke to contract her and volunteer to spend some time with him. She continues doing home care for him at his cabin on the other side of the river across from Chena Ridge/Rosie Creek in Fairbanks. He gets lonely for company, she says. She will be doing a training next week up in Fairbanks at the Princess Hotel. Her topic is Planting in May
ADJOURNMENT: 2 PM