Over the past eight weeks, I have had the opportunity to intern at Live54218. This role allowed me to meet countless people, observe a plethora of community health initiatives, and truly see a connected community that shares a passion for well-being.
I grew up in Green Bay, yet never really thought about the area as one focused on healthy living. For the past three years, I have been a student at UW-Madison; each time I tell someone I am from Green Bay, they immediately think of the Packers and famous Lambeau tailgates consisting of brats, beer, and cheese. I too have associated my hometown with these famous diet staples, though this summer exposed me to another side of Green Bay.
The number of locals who are passionate about community health and well-being is incredible. As a dietetics student, I feel very strongly about these topics and it is exciting to meet so many who share the same enthusiasm. I have learned that it takes numerous individuals to create a healthy, thriving community. Everyone has different strengths and interests, and when these movers and shakers come together, the possibilities are endless and results are impactful.
My internship allowed me to see the Farm2School work going on in the area. I am amazed at the number of schools with gardens, hoop houses, hydroponics, aquaponics, and more. The idea of schools as food systems had not previously crossed my mind, yet it is undeniable when I see lunches being served with produce students grew.
I was able to help at Live54218’s Open Streets booth earlier this month. Being stationed in the kids’ zone, I observed many families that came to get active and enjoy the festivities. Our table was positioned adjacent to the Safe Routes to School booth which was busy the entire time taking community input. I saw first-hand how eager people were to provide information regarding areas in need of safety improvements for biking and walking. This enthusiasm illustrates how community member are genuinely interested in improving the health and accessibility of the Green Bay area.
One of the most valuable things I will take away from my experience at Live54218 is the broad meaning behind the word well-being. Oftentimes, the concept of healthy living elicits ideas solely focused on physical health; I have come to appreciate the many other contributing factors. I was fascinated to learn that isolation negatively impacts health in a similar manner to smoking, high blood pressure, and obesity. This reveals just how important fighting this issue really is.
From the ADRC offering congregate meals to EBT being accepted at local farmers markets to the many events happening on the City Deck each week, I have enjoyed experiencing how the Green Bay area promotes connectivity among community members. Well-being encompasses many components, and it is exciting to see multiple aspects being targeted.
As my time at Live54218 comes to a close, I will leave with a different perspective of both community health and the Green Bay area. I have learned so much from numerous individuals who are undoubtedly enhancing local well-being. When I return to Madison in the Fall, I am prepared with a different answer when I tell people Green Bay is my hometown. Yes, I am proud to say the Packers are a big deal here, though football is not the only thing that brings community members together. I am happy to report that Titletown is truly working to make the Greater Green Bay Area the healthiest community in the nation.