September 26, 2012 9:58:09 AM
In partnership with Blue Cross Blue Shield, the Healthy Starkville Committee will bring together 50 leaders from the community on Thursday to discuss ways to strengthen and improve the always important, but vaguely defined "quality of life."
Chris Gottbrath, president of the committee, hopes the summit clears up some of the ambiguity in the often-overused phrase, at least in regards to Starkville.
But Gottbrath said the committee is not looking for all of the answers in the 90-minute session, which begins at 11:30 a.m., and that he is expects it to be more of a jump-start than anything.
"We will follow this up with more working meetings over the next six months," Gottbrath said. "We hope that those working meetings will lead to three or four projects in different areas based on the feed back we get from the town."
According to Gottbrath, the summit will be an opportunity to brainstorm, and he urges those attending to bring ideas and issues they see affecting the community.
Officials from MSU and OCH Regional, Mayor Parker Wiseman and the Board of Aldermen, religious organization leaders, police and fire department officials, and local business leaders were among the 50 invited.
Through these leaders and organizations, Gottbrath hopes to connect enough minds and engage enough interest with the goal being, eventually, the coalition running self-sufficiently and permanently.
"There really are cool activities happening in town and we want to expose the right people to them," Gottbrath said." Then we want to get them charged up to take it from there. We are looking for the sustainability and growth of this activity over time."
There are several key factors that Gottbrath said, "all pull the in the same direction," in regard to community improvement.
Physical and emotional health, education, safety (traffic and behavioral) and economic well-being, are the four areas Gottbrath thinks Starkville can improve upon. Addressing one, he said again, is in a way addressing them all.
"Those four are particularly important because there are national-level organizations that look at communities' well-being, and these are some of the pillars for their programs," Gottbrath said. "(The summit) will be more talking about the overall process on how to address these: We won't necessarily focus on each one individually."
After being named Mississippi's Healthiest Hometown in 2011 and receiving several grants that spawned projects ranging from food sustainability to nutrition education for young mothers, the Healthy Starkville Committee wants to help keep the community on that path and help those projects continue to operate.
The Starkville Summit will take place at OCH Regional Medical Center.
To find out more visit the Healthy Starkville Committee website at healthystarkville.com