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Woodbury THRIVES takes next big step

Woodbury Thrives chairman Roger Green gives a presentation on the organization Thursday afternoon at Eagle Valley Golf Course. (Bulletin photo by Youssef Rddad)1 / 2
Those who attended Thursday's Woodbury Thrives meeting were tasked with trimming this list of eight issues down to two or three most important initiatives for the organization to address. (Bulletin photo by Youssef Rddad)2 / 2

After years in the making, Woodbury THRIVES, a health and wellness organization, will be making mental health, obesity and social inclusiveness the focal points in the work it does.

After identifying eight possible initiatives through community feedback surveys, the group met Thursday afternoon to narrow down THRIVES' goals and, more importantly, determine what role the organization will play in Woodbury.

A group of about 50 people attending the meeting were asked to cast votes on which of these topics had the most community need and feasibility to accomplish. The ideas were generated from more than 300 community surveys and ranged from addressing poverty, transportation and other equity-related topics.

Rising to the top of the priority chart were addressing unmet mental health support, growing obesity rates and a need for more social inclusiveness.

"Now we at least have three initiatives that we can speak to with a lot of passion and enthusiasm, so we're very excited about that," THRIVES project manager Simi Patnaik said.

Now that the group has a better picture of what it will address, the organization is planning to form three task forces assigned to each outlined initiative.

Although THRIVES launched last spring, much of the preparation has been taking place during the course of almost two years. But Patanik said she's frequently been asked what is Woodbury THRIVES.

A grassroots effort, the organization is made up of mainly community members and residents. City of Woodbury, Washington County Public Health, the Woodbury Area Chamber of Commerce, the Woodbury Community Foundation and HealthEast have also made large contributions to the group's framework.

For THRIVES' leaders, the answer to having a healthy community involves more than access to health care and expands on how people and communities achieve well-being.

Citing a University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute study, THRIVES says only about 20 percent of factors that influence health involve clinical care. And while 30 percent of health outcomes come from healthy habits like not smoking and proper diet, economic and social factors, as well as physical environment, contribute to roughly half of a person's well-being.

While certain factors are difficult to have a say in or influence in, Patanik said she hopes the task force groups further narrow down actions and ways to track or assess progress the organization hopes to make in the coming years.

More information about THRIVES is available on the Woodbury Community Foundation's website,

"By being more inclusive by opening the tent as big as we can open it, we'll invite in more perspectives, thoughts and people who can do more work," Patnaik said. "We're eager to get more people involved."