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Garfield County senior program honored

The Garfield County senior program has been chosen as one of only nine counties in the United States to be included in the 2006 National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) compendium, in a series entitled “Building Healthier Communities.”This year’s compendium features collaborations between local county health departments and the area agency on aging or other community-based organizations catering to seniors.In January, NACCHO sent out a survey on the Internet asking local health departments about collaboration with other agencies to promote wellness of seniors. After a telephone interview, the Garfield County Health Department was notified that the Rifle Renegades wellness program at the Rifle Senior Center would be included in the compendium which will be published in June and promoted on the Internet.The Rifle Renegades have planned monthly wellness programs centered on aging gracefully and staying healthy since 1997. This group was successfully headed by Deb Stewart, senior program coordinator for Garfield County, employed by Colorado Mountain College, until her retirement earlier this year. It is now headed by Gwen Stephenson.The Rifle Renegade Committee includes Gwen, volunteer members from the community – some of whom are also on the Council on Aging – and one representative from Garfield County Public Health. Wellness programs are presented 10 months each year with a small break during the summer months.Some of the topics of the presentations include fall prevention, reading food labels, heart health, the Five Wishes Foundation, drug interactions, mental health and spiritual blessing, just to name a few. Skits, readings, jokes, puzzles, singing and games are often incorporated into the presentations. Each program includes an exercise segment, nutritious snacks, door prizes and handouts.The wellness programs are presented the second Monday of the month from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. Blood pressure checks are also offered. For the last four years the programs have been videotaped and are shown on the local public television channel.”I feel quite honored to be included as a featured county in this publication,” said Garfield County Public Health nurse Laura Goodwin. “I think the Rifle Renegades should be proud of themselves and all the effort they have put forth to create this program. And of course, it would not be possible without the enthusiastic support, interest and participation of our wonderful senior population.”


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