Montana Health Summit Update: We Can!® Program Staff Reach out to the West

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Posted November 12, 2009

You may recall that recently we told you that We Can! coordinator Karen Donato, S.M., was invited to participate as a panelist in U.S. Senator Max Baucus's (D-MT) "Make Health Happen: Promoting Wellness and Prevention in Rural Communities" summit in Bozeman, at Montana State University.

That summit was a resounding success.

We Can! Coordinator Karen Donato speaks at the wellness and prevention summit in Montana as other panelists look on

Since Sen. Baucus plays a key role in healthcare reform, the conference attracted notable health professionals, business leaders, Montana mayors, and others, making it an opportune moment for us to highlight We Can!'s successes to an array of influential individuals.

"We Can! was honored to be able to communicate not only the scientific research from the National Institutes of Health that demonstrates how schools can be wellness leaders in communities, but also lessons learned from our more than 1,150 registered We Can! community sites, of which 15% are school settings, nationwide and in 11 other countries," said Donato. "We were especially pleased to have been able to present this to such a broad array of audiences, in a state where we have nine registered community sites."

The panel that Donato participated in discussed ways that schools can be wellness leaders in rural communities by engaging entire communities, as well as encouraging their own employees, to adopt healthy lifestyles. Other panels touched on topics ranging from how an investment in wellness can become not only a community asset, but also an economic development opportunity; to cultivating "wellness champions" for healthy living initiatives in the community, workplace, and schools.

Among the many notable participants was Montana native and former professional basketball player, and Milwaukee Bucks coach, Larry Krystkowiak. He shared his thoughts as both an athlete and a parent, echoing a theme that resonates with We Can!.

"Healthy habits start when we're young," said Krystkowiak, father of three boys. "If parents are active, kids likely will be, too...our kids are watching us."

Other conference speakers included Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, CEO of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; Sally Jewell, CEO of REI, Inc.; and Neil Nicoll, CEO of YMCA USA.

Last Updated: February 13, 2013