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Staker named Cass County SHIP coordinator

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Leslie Staker joined Cass County Health, Human and Veterans Services by contract as Statewide Health Improvement Program grant coordinator on March 3. She will head the Community Leadership Team in efforts to reduce obesity and tobacco use throughout Cass County.

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Staker received her Bachelor of Science at Bemidji State University and her Master of Science in mass communications at St. Cloud State University. She has organized and implemented several health focused events including Kids Day America, Creating Wellness and the Bemidji Wellness Challenge.

"As a former wellness coach, I realize the impact of poor health on a person's physical, biochemical and emotional well-being," Staker said. "I am excited to join a program that understands the critical need for increased health in the community."

Staker was previously employed at Explore Chiropractic as director of public relations and wellness coach.

"Leslie has been offered a wonderful opportunity to promote wellness programs in Cass County," said Dr. Angela Bremer, owner of Explore Chiropractic. "This position is perfect for her, though she will be dearly missed by me."

SHIP was developed in response to the 2007 Minnesota Legislature's request to develop a plan for statewide health promotion to address the rising cost of health and health care in Minnesota. SHIP tackles the top three causes of preventable illness and death in the United States: tobacco use, physical inactivity and poor nutrition. Together, these three factors have been estimated to cause 35 percent of all annual deaths in the United States, or 800,000 deaths each year. These factors also drive up health care costs. SHIP interventions are projected to save an estimated $1.9 billion in Minnesota by 2015.

SHIP is a competitive grant process with funding awarded through community health boards and tribal governments across Minnesota beginning in July 2009. Grantees are required to create community action plans, assemble community leadership teams, and establish partnerships. To improve the health of Minnesotans, grantees will utilize policy, systems and environmental changes in four settings: schools, worksites, health care and community.

Cass County SHIP will focus on obesity and tobacco use and exposure as key risk factors to target interventions in fiscal years 2010 and 2011.

Guiding Cass County SHIP is a Community Leadership Team with members from varied backgrounds. The team's mission is to improve the health of Cass County residents through policies, systems and environmental change in areas of tobacco and obesity. Team members are Beth Swanson of Bi-CAP; Jill May of University of Minnesota Extension; Jon Knopik of the Minnesota Council on Aging; Kelly Felton of the Working Together Coalition; Leslie Bouchonville of PR-B Family Center; Paul Jaeger of First National Bank of Walker; Renee Schwaller, community member; Sandy Munson of the Walker-Hackensack-Akeley School District; and Jamie Richter, Renee Lukkason and Ane Rogers of Cass County Health, Human and Veteran Services.

For details, contact Staker at 218-280-2277 or lstaker@yahoo.com.

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