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Health Forum aims to discuss healthy lifestyles

BEMIDJI – Community members are invited to gather later this month for a conversation on fostering healthy communities.

The North Country State Health Improvement Program will host a Healthy Community Forum from 5-7 p.m. Jan. 18 at the Hampton Inn & Suites in Bemidji.

North Country SHIP, which serves Lake of the Woods, Beltrami, Hubbard and Clearwater counties, aims to prevent disease by fostering healthier communities through healthier eating, more physical activity and avoiding secondhand smoke.

The forum, featuring speakers and a success-story panel, will inform stakeholders and community members of the work that has been done and the work that is planned for the future, said Josh Larson, community transformation coordinator of North Country SHIP.

“This is an attempt by (the Minnesota Department of Health), in collaboration with its grantees through SHIP, to get the word out to community members, elected officials, to anybody that has an interest, on what SHIP has been up to the last couple of years,” Larson said.

Speakers for the event will include James Koppel, deputy commissioner of health; Warren Larson, director of public affairs for Sanford Health of Northern Minnesota; representatives from Kelliher and Bemidji schools; TEAM Industries; The Fresh Start Farmers Market in Baudette; and Bemidji State University.

“It’s a chance for our partners to talk about how they’ve been impacted by the support of SHIP,” Larson said.

SHIP is entering the last six months of a three-year grant from the Minnesota Department of Health. The forum is timely in that the Legislature is expected to consider this coming session whether to fund SHIP programs beyond the current funding cycle.

The event includes dinner, so while there is no charge to participate, Larson said attendees are asked to RSVP at