Dodge Refreshed Summit

By: Kate Scheffler Desk of Post-it notes, markers, and Dodge County brochures.

Dodge Refreshed Mission Statement: Empowering Dodge County residents to grow in health and wellness by promoting awareness, improving access to resources, and building strong connections. The 2nd annual Dodge County Community Health Summit took place on Thursday, February 28 at Dodge Center City Hall.

With a variety of community members in attendance, the event offered an opportunity for people to come together, identify connections, promote health and brainstorm innovative ideas for improving the community. Dodge Refreshed was developed after recognizing the need for more structured development of healthy activities throughout the community.  Modeled on Mower County’s “Mower Refreshed” initiative, Dodge Refreshed was created with the hopes of “making healthy choices a priority” through community engagement and support of healthy living. Dodge Refreshed is a citizen driven initiative that aims to make healthy decisions easier and more accessible by adjusting to fit individual needs. Although the plan is still in the beginning stages, Dodge Refreshed is laying a solid foundation by building relationships and gaining community member perspectives in order to move forward.  By “letting the priorities come from the community,” Dodge County hopes to motivate community members to get involved and volunteer.

During the 2013 Health Summit, community members chose topics from a list of discussion points, identifying which areas appeared the most interesting to them by placing stickers on which topics interested them. This provided a visual display of health resources throughout the community, what was lacking, and how they could be better utilized. In order to determine what connections currently exist, members were asked to fill out a network map by drawing lines to connect different resources throughout the community. Community members were then asked to sit down at tables that were covered with brown paper. This offered a unique way to stimulate creative processes by allowing community members to freely illustrate their ideas throughout the workshop. Robert Kelly, the Superintendent of Triton High School, stated, “I’m concerned about the youth, obesity rates and other problems that are going on around the world. We seem to be so worried about tests at school that we’ve forgotten about the physical side of kids’ education.”

Through the Dodge Refreshed movement, Dodge County hopes to get back to these basics. Summit participants had the opportunity to hear from multiple guest speakers in support of the initiative.  Dr. Robert Flinchbaugh, Medical Director of the Mayo Family Clinic Kasson, spoke about the how the Kasson Clinic is implementing a new care team model. Under this new integrated team model, appointments will be tailored to patients through team communication and delivery of care. By focusing on preventive medicine, the Dodge County community will be healthier. In regards to his support of the Dodge Refreshed initiative, he stated, “I want to see the community become the healthiest in the state, and even the country.”  The next speaker, Larry Dobson, editor and publisher for the Community News Corp., spoke to the importance of community engagement and that in order for the initiative to be effective, “it requires us all to work together as a community . . . and to be aware that we are socially dependent on each other.” Dobson spoke of his vision of having readily available resources for people that outline the resources of the community as well as to create opportunities for businesses within the community to be successful.

Small group sitting around a circular table discussing matters with one another.Breaking into smaller groups facilitated by Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation team members, community members were able to visually identify areas of interest in the community through the use of sticky notes and other visual aids. Community members had the choice to join tables that discussed topics such as Developing New Healthy Activities, Improving Access to Wellness Resources, Leveraging Communication Channels to Spread the Message, and more. During these break-out sessions, community members determined what connections currently existed in the area and considered how to fill in the gaps. When asked for feedback on the summit, Jane Olive, an active community member, stated, “It is always good to come together with community members and set time aside to talk about things that are important to the community.”

Post-it notes placed in a square formation regarding communication activity.A common theme that arose was to utilize the resources currently available in Dodge County. Some of these resources include: public access TV, the Kasson billboard, electronic messaging, and possibly establishing a resource center for public access. Collaboration among businesses all working towards one goal will lead to better results. Along with this realization, the necessity of advertisement by getting the word out in unique ways was discussed. It was proposed that a Health Expo be coordinated that focuses on promoting the resources that are present in the community, and to encourage businesses to develop healthy activities by utilizing their resources. In order for this movement to succeed, it requires total community collaboration by involving all members, from school age to the elderly.

Activity board with Post-it notes and intersecting lines showing their connections with one another.Throughout the summit, participants were asked for input on what they would like to get out of the movement. Multiple members stated the need for more family oriented activities. Some suggestions were to develop activities by improving the current recreational trails and sidewalks, which will promote walking, hiking, and bike riding. Another suggestion was to grow a community garden. This has been done at the Triton High School and has gotten positive feedback. This activity allows schools to teach the values and health benefits of gardening to elementary students, instilling these healthy habits at an early age. Teaching kids healthy living habits at school encourages them to continue those activities at home. The goal is to involve children in more physical activities.

Another project that is currently under way at Triton is re-naming their weight room to an “exercise center” to eliminate the stigma of the “weight room” concept. This is believed to promote more exercise among both students and adults. Students from Kasson Mantorville High School’s AV club created a video that was shared at the summit. It encompassed the health of Dodge County, specifically Manorville and Kasson. The video showed interviews of various professionals throughout the county, and their thoughts about the health of Dodge County. With the hopes of creating videos featuring every city in Dodge County, the AV students were excited and up to the task. The students said that creating the video gave them the opportunity to become involved in the community, which is what this whole process is about.

When asked what they would like to see arise from the Dodge Refreshed movement, they shared similar thoughts: “There seem to be a lot of activities for certain groups of people and not many for other types. We would like to see more organized events that are family oriented!” One suggestion was to incorporate healthy living into the many festivals that take place throughout the county. In order to move forward, a coalition of community members will be established, allowing members to combine community resources, improve communication techniques and engage the community in furthering the initiative. For the Dodge Refreshed movement to be successful, members of the community must work together and combine resources to promote healthy living throughout the community. Some wise advice from a community member was, “We have to move, we have to do something other than being inactive.”

For more information, please visit the Dodge Refreshed website:  or “like” the Dodge Refreshed Facebook page.