Addressing the needs of our youth

The Community Health Needs Assessment focuses on adult community members, but what about children and teenagers?

Through the Chippewa County Youth Survey the Chippewa Health Improvement Partnership gathered information from area middle and high schools
 about issues related to physical activity, tobacco use, alcohol and drug use, and behaviors that contribute to unintentional injury or violence. This
information included how frequently these behaviors occur and how old children are when they first participate in them.

“We didn’t want to make any assumptions regarding youth risk behaviors,” says Laura Baalrud, Health Educator with 3D Community Health: Body.Mind.Spirit. “The county-wide survey allows us to provide data to seven public school districts, enabling them to demonstrate the need for funding to address these issues and engage children and teens with prevention initiatives.”

IDENTIFYING LOCAL ISSUES

Data from the 2015 Community Health Needs Assessment determined the top concerns in both Chippewa andEau Claire counties were:

  • Mental health
  • Alcohol misuse
  • Substance abuse
  • Obesity

Another challenge in local communities was food insecurity — which isn’t the same thing as hunger, though the two are related. Rather than
physical discomfort, food insecurity is the lack of financial resources necessary to acquire enough food to lead a healthy, active lifestyle. It is often connected with numerous other problems, and it affects people across all populations.

“Both the Chippewa County Youth Assessment and the Community Health Needs Assessments are the result of many partners working together,” says Baalrud. “In gathering this information, we can put initiatives in place to address risk behavior and have a starting point to measure how those
initiatives are working.”

To learn more about ensuring the health of your child, visit sacredhearteauclaire.org or stjoeschipfalls.org.

CREATING A DRUG FREE COMMUNITY

The 2015 Community Health Needs Assessment found that substance abuse among youth in both Chippewa and Eau Claire counties was an area of particular concern. To that end, HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital is working to secure a Drug-Free Communities Support Program grant.

“Coalitions that receive these funds work with leaders in the community to identify and address local youth substance use problems and create sustainable changes at the community level,” says Laura Baalrud, Health Educator at 3D Community Health: Body.Mind.Spirit.

Each Drug-Free Community Support Program grant provides $125,000 per year for five years.

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