Northborough celebrates new Be Well initiative

Children try to dodge the swinging red ball in one of the many bouncing house games at Wednesday’s Be Well Northborough launch event. . (Photo/Laura Hayes)

NORTHBOROUGH — Families and community members packed Northborough’s Ellsworth McAfee Park to play on bouncy houses and learn about city services on Wednesday.

This marked the official launch of a new municipal initiative called Be Well Northborough.

“If you think of small town America, that’s exactly what I’m thinking of,” recreation director Allie Lane said of the event. ” It’s a way [for the departments] to communicate and educate and bring kids and families out and introduce ourselves and allow them to have a good time.

The program relies on funding from ARPA

This initiative was presented to the Northborough Board of Selectmen earlier this year.

A few months later, the elected vote to allocate $100,000 of its American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to the program, which aims to streamline communication and scheduling between city officials and departments.

Health worker Kristin Black described the effort as an interdepartmental project to help the community recover from COVID-19.

Black and Lane are two of the town officials who are members of the Be Well Northborough task force.

The group also includes staff from Police and Fire Services, Northborough Family and Youth Services, Aging Centre, Council on Aging, Northborough Free Library and School Services, as well as Deputy City Administrator Becca Meekins.

Key facets of the group’s work include connecting community members with mental health and recovery resources – such as substance use prevention – and exploring socializing and bonding opportunities. .

“‘Get active again in your community’ is really the goal of the program,” Black said.

The working group collaborates

Black said the task force met frequently and discussed the various initiatives the departments were working on. Discussions are also looking at ways to consolidate work under one roof.

As an example, Black noted that the health department, schools, senior center, and family and youth services all provide mental health resources.

“But we’ve never really sat together in the same room and said, ‘How can we do this holistically and really make sure that we’re efficient with our resources and that we support each other and that we let’s complement our efforts,” Black said.

Some members of the Be Well working group having children in school, they noted that the children were struggling and wondered if they could participate in a fun event to mark the start of summer.

Participate in this week’s launch event.

“It was the idea to organize this event where everyone was welcome. They will meet their friends. No one was left out,” Black said.

Additionally, Black said it could introduce attendees to new things to do in town.

The health worker notes the opportunity to reconnect

Other city departments and local organizations had booths and activities at Wednesday’s event.

The fire department had CPR training dummies.

The recreation department handed out bags of popcorn, and Wegmans sponsored the event by providing fresh fruit and healthy snacks.

“I’m thrilled to see families and allow people to reconnect with their neighbors in a way that we haven’t had opportunities. [to do] over the past two years,” Black said.

“We try to think creatively”

In the meantime, Be Well Northborough has a calendar full of other activities.

These include hikes led by Ken Bennet and Forest Lyford.

Jean Rogers hosted outdoor yoga sessions at Ellsworth McAfee Park.

At the Senior Center, a class is scheduled to teach self-help techniques called Mindful Living during Uncertain Times.

Black said the city hopes to stretch ARPA funds, expand existing programs, or offer free programs. She said Be Well hopes to bring in licensed clinicians to run support groups for different age groups.

“We try to think creatively and outside the box and really engage with all residents — new in town, always in town — and realize that so many of our departments have so much to offer,” Black said.

For more information, visit https://www.town.northborough.ma.us/bewell.

Drone photography shows attendees kicking off Be Well Northborough at Ellsworth McAfee Park. (Photo/courtesy David Parenti)

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