Commissioner reviews YOW’s healthy progress in 2016

As the year closes, one of the accomplishments I am most happy about is the success of the 2016 Year of Wellness Task Force.

Tillamook County Commissioner Bill Baertlein

By Bill Baertlein
Tillamook County Commissioner
YOW Task Force Commission Chair

From an acorn of an idea to bring all of our health care providers together to come up with one area we could all work on collaboratively, to the finished product where we have over 60 organizations involved in helping our residents make healthy choices in diet, exercise and lifestyle. The Year of Wellness has accomplished much over the past 12 months.

We have a monthly newsletter promoting free and low-cost events, which represent interests of all ages and ethnicities, and include all areas of health. For example, the September newsletter highlighted: “Light Up the Darkness” suicide awareness; “Taking Charge of Diabetes” event; square dance classes; food preservation classes; parenting classes; Master Recycler program; Red Cross “Prepare Out Loud” event; farmers markets; and a “Walk of Faith” fundraiser.

Our print media and radio have focused and fully supported the Year of Wellness. Articles have included healthy recipes featuring nutrition information and seasonally available food; announcements of Year of Wellness events and challenges; among many others.

The Year of Wellness website serves as a source for information including events, blogs and articles about health written by representatives of Year of Wellness partner organizations, healthy recipes and links to local partners providing services and programs.

My greatest satisfaction has been working with the various committees.

The Healthy Minds Committee is made up of a variety of community partners including clinical, mental and behavioral health providers, prevention specialists, law enforcement and youth advocates. The committee’s meetings, discussions and combined efforts have significantly improved relations between partners where silos, and even some animosity, previously existed. The group has facilitated mental health workshops in all areas of the county and has been successful in priming the community for a district-wide focus on addressing adverse childhood experience in local schools.

The Healthy People in Public Places Committee is focused on reducing tobacco use. They are in the process of drafting a new tobacco policy for the county and for our local cities.

The Nutrition Committee partnered with Northwest Disability Serves, Oregon State University Extension and Adventist Health to provide an eight-week class, “Cooking Matters,” for participants to learn how to plan, purchase and prepare meals high in nutritional value and low in cost. The committee has also promoted many informational and free programs for the community.

The collaboration between many entities has been exceptional. It has resulted in countless community members embracing the importance of engaging in healthy behavior and in cultivating a shared culture of health.

Moreover, many other Oregon counties are now looking to Tillamook County as a model and implementing their own community-based programs.

This year was YOW’s pilot program. It has been so successful, we are extending to 2017 – and wishing everyone continued health and happiness.