Prof. Gurung Press-Gazette column: Are you ready to GROW Green Bay?

Prof. Regan Gurung’s (Psychology, Human Development) column from the Green Bay Press-Gazette on April 6, 2018

What an exciting time it is to live in Green Bay. Am I so enthused because of impending spring weather? Because of the buds and shoots ready (I trust) to emerge? No, although my enthusiasm is related to growing.

I have lived in Green Bay for almost 20 years. I moved here from southern California and remember being shocked by the drastic difference in health and wellness in Brown County as compared to California. Sure, you say, they have all that sunshine and the beach. Indeed, walking along the Santa Monica promenade I saw both, but those two factors are not enough to explain health disparities. Back then, Green Bay had not rallied its forces to tackle health.

That was then. This is now. A new initiative is poised to unfurl. Welcome to GROW: Greater Green Bay: Re-imagining Our Well-Being. The GROW Project represents the evolution of the very successful Live54218 organization.

Need a recap? Previously in Green Bay there were isolated efforts at improving health.  In 2010, a Press Gazette editorial challenged us to Think Bold about community health. This led to a focus on childhood obesity and the formation of Live54218. After seven years of impressive change, it was clear that Green Bay was ready to take it up a notch.

Last September, Live54218 gathered a cross-section of stakeholders in greater Green Bay to forge a shared vision: enhance the health and well-being of all who call greater Green Bay home. The GROW Project was born.

The GROW Project has an impressive goal: Creating a measurable impact on health and well-being while simultaneously branding greater Green Bay as an active, thriving place. As a health psychologist, I can tell you the science of well-being is clear. True mental, spiritual, emotional, and physical wellness rests on factors such as economic opportunity, lifelong learning, a strong sense of purpose, and social connectedness.

The GROW Project proposes a unique, new well-being framework for our community. It defines health in an exciting, innovative way. Inspired by the great work done in communities around the nation, GROW is poised to change our wellness. Most importantly, the GROW team will help foster a vision for community wellness and help convene diverse stakeholders (yes, you), engage to inspire and activate change (yes, you), and catalyze collaborations across different sectors (yes, you).

Changing health and wellness is not easy. We get stuck in our ways. Used to staying home on the couch in bad weather? Used to not eating well or have not thought twice about how much you drink? What will it take to change it? How do we make community level change? The GROW project aims to get all the major players in town to work together for our greater good.

Now 20 years later, I am prouder than ever to call Green Bay home and be part of the GROW project. I look forward to a happier, healthier community, where our kids can grow up safe and well. Where we GROW well together.

I hope you will help. Follow Live54218 on Facebook for more developments.

Regan A. R. Gurung is the Ben J. & Joyce Rosenberg Professor of Psychology and Human Development at UW-Green Bay and cochair of the LIVE54218 Board/Leadership Team.

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