Healthcare (3)

HEALTHIER TOGETHER’S Collective Impact approach to improve Community Health

In 2019, a Collective Impact movement to improve the health of communities in southwestern Illinois officially launched with leadership, workgroups, funding and a new branded website to be the hub of health information and activities. HEALTHIER TOGETHER is a community-based movement that seeks to transform St. Clair County and surrounding regions into the top 25% of the healthiest counties in Illinois by 2025. It does this by supporting the efforts of groups working together to improve the health and quality of life within six areas which include Chronic Disease Prevention, Community Safety, Education, Maternal & Child Health, Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders. Over the last 16 months, HEALTHIER TOGETHER has worked alongside and assisted work groups to initiate or complete the activities listed below:
      • Providing internet access funding and support to enable distance learning for up to 250 households for schools unable to provide this service through their CARES Act funding.
      • Providing Safe Sleep Campaign supplies to over 600 newborns and their families; and securing additional newborn supplies through October 2021 for a potential of 10,200 children from low-income households.
      • Creating Farmers Market food voucher partnerships with local businesses to provide fresh produce to 1,300 families.
      • Supporting monthly Mobile Food Markets that helped distribute over 30,000 pounds of food and other household supplies and PPE’s to the community.
      • Co-Host and sponsor to events that provided health curriculum, and 645 weekend meal boxes containing 15,480 meals to 365 students and their families.
      • Co-Host and sponsor to four community engagement and training events related to Community Safety, Suicide Prevention and Substance Use Disorders for health professionals and community members.
      • Funding for printing and advertising services to three community health campaigns related to Vaping, Suicide Prevention and Safe Sleep for newborns.
For more details about these and other activities and the Healthier Together movement, visit their website at

Gateway Region YMCA

What does being fit mean? It may mean different things to different people, but I hope more comes to mind than flat abs.

  1. I encourage all those that are seeking to be fit, to focus on all aspects of their wellbeing. A good place to start might be asking yourself the question why. Why do I want to be fit or healthy? Once you answer that question, it will motivate you to stay the course when motivation is low. There will be days that you do not feel like making healthy choices, but if you keep your why at the forefront of your thoughts, it will keep you motivated. Some may consider it your personal mantra or phrase that you say every day.
    Answering your why and respecting your body with a commitment to take care of yourself inside and out will help to build your confidence and carry over to all aspects of your life. Here are some practical healthy lifestyle components for supporting your “WHY” that aid weight loss, curb inflammation and help you feel your best.
    Drink plenty of water, 1/2 ounce per lb. of bodyweight. Also, replenish lost fluids through sweating. 16 ounces for every lb. lost during exercise.

  2. Get at least 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Set a regular bedtime each evening.

  3. Manage stress. Take quiet time for prayer, meditation or Yoga.

  4. Move every day, but give yourself an active rest day (such as Yoga, swimming or a light walk) as well as one day off per week. This will assist your body in rebuilding and repairing your muscles. A consistent workout routine will help usher out sugar, produce feel good brain chemicals called endorphins and curb stress.

  5. Avoid sugary foods. Eat whole foods and avoid long shelf life junk foods which will break the cycle of energy crashes.

  6. Avoid foods whose packages list the following code names for sugar: Dextrose, Fructose, Fruit juice concentrate, glucose, High fructose corn syrup, sucrose.

  7. Favor foods that live and grow such as leafy greens, lean meat, fish and chicken. Lentils/beans, steel cut oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa. Eat low fat dairy unless you notice an intolerance.
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Fit My Life Fitness and O’Fallon Fire Rescue

We want your family to be happy, healthy and safe. Are you mentally and physically prepared in case of a fire? If not, visit The Red Cross has everything from a fire escape plan to what to do for kids and pets in case of a fire. They also have the resources to help you stay safe against a winter storm, flood, and COVID-19 as well. Did you know your local Red Cross has a program to help you get smoke detectors for your home? They have educators who will teach fire prevention at your local schools. You can call them to assist you when a fire does occur. Don’t wait until a fire happens to educate yourself and have peace of mind. Go to for more information on how to keep your family healthy and safe as possible.
O’Fallon Fire Rescue has partnered with Illinois Fire Safety Alliance to provide our residents with a free 10-year smoke detector, as supplies last. Come January 1, 2023, single and multi-family homes that are still using smoke alarms with removable batteries are required to install new alarms that feature 10-year sealed battery alarms. (FIRE SAFETY (425 ILCS
60/) Smoke Detector Act). O’Fallon Fire Rescue also has a Emergency Preparedness Guide booklet (What To Do When Disaster Threatens) that is free to our residents. Visit for more information and fire safety resources.
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Age Smart Community Resources

O’Fallon, IL – AgeSmart Community Resources announces ROCK OUT at the Aging Expo will be held virtually on Thursday, May 20 from 9:00 am to Noon.

Log in begins at 8:30 am.

This annual event features resources and information for Older Adults and caregivers. The Keynote address by, Dr. Gary Behrman, Clinician, Consultant and Educator, will address Aging Gracefully. Presentations throughout the morning include a cooking demonstration, Travel in Southern Illinois, presented by Andy Waterman with ILLINOISouth Tourism, and other aging related presentations.

Historically, this event has been a wonderful way to share information and resources available in our community that can simplify and dignify the art of aging. “Switching to the virtual platform provides us with great opportunities to showcase new information and resources with many more attendees. Transportation, weather and walking around a huge event space is no longer a concern. You can be educated, entertained, and feel connected from the comfort of your own home!”, says Joy Paeth, Executive CEO for AgeSmart Community Resources.

Sponsorships for this virtual event are still available. For more information, contact Abigail at 618-222-2561 or log onto our website at

 Registration for the FREE zoom event is available at this link: or at

AgeSmart Community Resources enhance the lives of older adults, persons with disabilities and veterans through advocacy, action, and answers on aging.

As the planning entity for our seven county area, we fund home and community-based services that help older adults and persons with disabilities live healthy and independently.

Our dedicated and well-trained staff are the leading authority on the aging network. We offer confidential and unbiased guidance to access the services you need.


Since May is Older Americans’ Month, it’s appropriate and inspiring to give a nod to our older Americans in this time of transition toward Covid-19 recovery.  Precautions, especially for older adults labeled as ‘higher risk,’ were unprecedented, with masks, limited capacities and closures, and longer than expected separations from dear ones.  These mandates were full of amplified challenges for older adults.  Masks posed breathing difficulty.  Medical procedures and tests were postponed.  Closures of stores, churches, senior centers, and social outlets were not only inconvenient but isolating.  Loneliness reached a new level when extended families separated themselves by households, and older adults living alone went without visitors, up-close smiles, and hugs, for months on end.  The toll of the pandemic on the physical and mental health of older adults is yet to be fully calculated.

However, let’s take a closer look at how older adults have emerged.  They faced these months of caution and uncertainty with a strength and a grace symbolic of their generations.  Those not before comfortable with their cell phones are now proficient Zoom users for family get-togethers.  Worshipers not congregating in churches now lead parking lot Bible studies or online Rosary prayers.  Older adults brought back the block party, albeit social-distanced, prodding younger neighbors to visit in driveways and on porches.  Retired doctors, nurses, and medical professionals stepped back out into the front line to offer their wisdom and caring hands.  Seniors led the way bravely coming forward to receive a new vaccine.  Our older adults have waited, some more patiently than others, to transition back into everyday activities with a new appreciation.  Reunions and resumed activity are happening, and many of our Older Americans are ready!  If the transition is difficult, counseling and resourcing are available through many senior services in the region.   


Jodi Gardner, LCSW, earned her B.S.Ed. from McKendree College and M.S.W. from Washington University.  She works as a geriatric and caregiver counselor at Southwestern Illinois College’s Programs and Services for Older Persons.  She can be reached at 618-234-4410, ext. 7031.  


Gun Safety | Talking to Your Children and Other Parents | By Lisa Ryan MD, PhD | St. Louis Children’s Hospital

Submitted by Memorial Hospitals Belleville | Shiloh

It has recently been brought to my attention that I am “extra.” This observation was thoughtfully delivered by my high schooler but quickly confirmed by her younger brothers. I think it may have been initiated by the pizza skulls I made for our Halloween party, or maybe it was the fact that I peel my first grader’s orange before packing it in his lunch. Either way, the three of them were able to create a rather comprehensive list enumerating the many ways in which I am “extra.” I listened in amusement for a while, but when they started talking about the way I would ask too many questions prior to playdates, I had to interject.

My kids were referring to the fact that any time they go to a friend’s house for the first time, I make a point to ask whether any guns in the house are stored in a secure manner. The conversation is never easy, nor is it always comfortable, but in a world where 19 children a day will die from or be treated for a gunshot wound, the uncomfortable conversations are necessary.

Firearm related deaths are the third leading cause of death for children aged 1-17. At St. Louis Children’s Hospital 150 children were treated for gunshot wounds in 2020, compared to 92 in 2019 – more than a 60% increase.

The website helps parents talk with their children and other parents about gun safety by dividing it into very simple steps using the acronym SMART:

S. Secure guns in homes and vehicles.
Guns should be stored unloaded, with gun locks, in locked cabinets or safes. The ammunition should be stored in a separate locked location. These storage areas should be inaccessible to children. Studies show that, despite what most parents think, most kids know if there is a gun in the house and where it is kept. Many of those children will admit to handling the gun when the parent is not around.

M. Model responsible behavior.
It is the responsibility of the gun owner to prevent unauthorized access through appropriate gun storage. Whether your family owns guns or not, parents should discuss with their child that guns are not toys. Should your child see a gun at a friend’s house, or anywhere else, they should not touch it; they should walk away, and they should tell an adult.

A. Ask about unsecured guns in other homes.
Talking with other parents about guns in their homes can be awkward. Consider making it part of a general safety discussion. For example, ask if the house has a pet, a pool or any rearms. If it is uncomfortable to talk face-to-face, use email or text to ask and relay information. Volunteer information about your home before you are asked. Discussing gun storage prior to a playdate should be as routine as discussing food allergies. Visit the website for more information.

R. Recognize the risks of teen suicide.
A 2018 study found a close relationship between suicide rates and gun ownership. That is, the states with the highest suicide rates also had the highest rates of gun ownership.

T. Tell your peers to be smart.
The more often these conversations occur, the easier they are to have.
Nothing is extra when it comes to the safety of our kids.

To receive a free gun lock, click here. For more information on home safety tips, call 314.565.0369 or visit