Sitka Health Summit chooses two community wellness projects for 2022-23




Improving life in Sitka for youth and elders were the themes as local residents gathered to choose two community wellness projects at the 14th annual Sitka Health Summit planning day, held Thursday, Sept. 15, at the University of Alaska Southeast Sitka Campus. The two chosen projects include improving local elder services and facilities and creating sustainable and affordable childcare. These projects will be pursued in 2022-23.


This was the first in-person Sitka Health Summit planning day since 2018. In 2019, the planning day was postponed because the community of Sitka was honored with a Culture of Health Award from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, an application submitted by the Sitka Health Summit Coalition. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the event. The 2021 Sitka Health Summit was online and not in-person.


Sitka residents were invited to submit project ideas online before Sept. 9, which generated a list of dozens of projects in a variety of categories, such as physical activity, nutrition, mental health, health equity, etc. The project proposals were split into 10 categories, with participants on Thursday picking their top proposals in each category to submit for final consideration. The top two projects receive up to $2,000 in seed money, in addition to some facilitation services from the Sitka Health Summit Coalition, to help get the projects off the ground.


“You know, respecting elders is a traditional tribal value. And so that goes back 10,000 years here, and what can we do to kind of show that,” Sitka Health Summit Coalition member Doug Osborne said. “The childcare system in Sitka, as many places in the country, is in crisis. And this affects families, this affects the people that work there.”


Each of the two chosen community wellness projects will host a kick-off event in the near future, and these events are open to the public and anybody who wants to help with the project. The projects, their kick-off meetings, and contact people are listed below.


· Reinvigorate elders’ services and facilities in Sitka — 1-3 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 1, at Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall (planning meeting 3-4 p.m. on Friday, Sept, 23, over Zoom), contact Barbara Bingham, 907-738-3557, bbingham23@gmail.com, or Andy Corak, 888-487-1033, acorak@sailinc.org.

· Create a stellar childcare system in Sitka — 10 a.m. to noon, Saturday, Oct. 22, at a location TBA, contact Kari Sagel, 907-752-7323 (752-READ), sagelk@sitkaschools.org.


In addition to the two project kick-off meetings, the monthly Sitka Health Summit Wooch.een (Tlingít for “Working Together”) health networking lunch meeting will be at noon on Thursday, Sept. 22, online using Zoom. Every Wooch.een meeting includes goal updates and opportunities to support the projects. For more information, contact Doug Osborne at 907-966-8674 or Amanda Roberts at 907-966-8745.


The Sitka Health Summit is coordinated, funded, and supported by a coalition of local groups that includes the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC), Sitka Counseling/Hope Coalition, Sitka Tribe of Alaska Social Services, Sitkans Against Family Violence (SAFV), Southeast Alaska Independent Living (SAIL), the University of Alaska Southeast Sitka Campus, Sitka Conservation Society, the State of Alaska Division of Public Health-Section of Public Health Nursing, Southeast Radiation Oncology Center, Outer Coast, Sitka School District, and the Sitka Health Summit Coalition.


For more information about the Sitka Health Summit and its current and past projects, go to http://www.sitkahealthsummit.org/. The Sitka Health Summit also has a page on Facebook with information on healthy events in Sitka, https://www.facebook.com/SitkaHealthSummit.

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