MATTOON -- Laura Bollan, Director of Healthy Communities for Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center, was the speaker on Wednesday, Sept. 27 at the weekly Mattoon Rotary Club meeting at the Mattoon Country Club. Laura noted Healthy Communities is a result of an assessment to determine how best to serve our area. The assessment showed a large number of kids in our area are overweight or obese. As a result a number of programs have been developed and a list can be found at www.sarahbush.org/community-resources/healthy-communities/.

Bollan talked about some of the individual programs included in the Healthy Communities’ effort that connects with 5,000 students each month and is coordinated with Project Fit America. The Healthy Heroes Challenge has students run or walk 500 miles during the school year. Programs also enable nutrition awareness and offer cooking classes. Programs are offered for many different goals and impacts.

She also noted the Body Electric program for high school students which educate and improve self-esteem as she noted that suicide and depression are the top concern for this group. As a result of this concern, mental health first aid training was developed. This program is open to anyone in the community to attend an eight-hour training on how to identify pre-teen and teenagers who are experiencing depression, anxiety, etc. Another major program from SBL's Healthy Communities is the dental program involving 66 schools and nine counties offering preventative services and rating the oral health of students. She also noted all services are free to income eligible students. Moving forward, this program will be inclusive to adults in our community that are in need of dental care. Currently, the program serves children.

Bollan spoke about the Community Online Resources Directory (CORD) that is a free tool available on Sarah Bush Lincoln's website that features area agencies available to serve individual needs. This useful tool can be located at www.sarahbush.org/cord/.

She also invited all to the Paint the Town 5k on Saturday which is a color run to honor all those living with cancer. Visit www.sarahbush.org/paintthetown5k/ if you are interested.

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