By Ann Butler
The March session of Leadership La Plata addressed the sector of health and human services.
In a class designed by Rachel Bauske and Stacy Reuille-Dupont and moderated by Robin Duffy-Wirth, class members looked at the holistic health of the community as well as corrective steps they can take as individuals to improve their own health.
Bauske, whose day job is as director of the Volunteers of America, which runs the Durango Community Shelter and Southwest Safehouse, sees the most fragile members of our community on a daily basis. She and Reuille-Dupont began the day with class members exploring concepts of privilege, power and oppression, contributing factors to homelessness, mental health and what it means to remain not just healthy, but well.
The morning ended with class members listening to and getting to know residents whose lives have been impacted by homelessness, poverty, domestic violence, military service in combat and mental illness. I commend those people who were willing to share some of the most difficult times in their lives to spread understanding and knowledge.
The afternoon started with class members spreading out around the community to visit local health and human services providers, asking for help. Many reported back they had no idea how many people in our community are affected by these social ills.
The experience achieved what I imagine organizers hoped for – broader understanding, more compassion and a commitment to use their leadership skills to support the nonprofits and agencies that deal with our fragile neighbors.
A focus on personal health and wellness was the last activity of the day.
Class members received corrective exercise and functional movement screenings, linking nutrition, brain health and mood. They experienced healing touch and tried a bit of acupuncture.
Leadership La Plata has trained more than 400 community leaders during its almost 30 years of existence. In addition to teaching about a variety of sectors – others include criminal justice, business and environment – class members learn leadership skills and expand their awareness of the diverse populations that call La Plata County home.
I am a proud graduate of the program, a member of the Class of 1991-1992. While I know that’s so last century, I use contacts and information gained from my year all the time.
Applications for the Class of 2017-2018 are due around the end of May and may be found at www.leadershiplaplata.org. I encourage anyone who wants to get to know this community more deeply and contribute more effectively to consider this. Applying takes some time, and recommendations are needed, too.
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