Click here for a pdf copy of the Fall 2016 CONNECTION Newsletter

Greater Fall River 
Health Update
December 1, 2016

Click here for the new WalkFallRiver web site

Members of the new Fellowship Health Resources (FHR) Towne House Clubhouse program at 1706 President Avenue recently celebrated Thanksgiving with a free dinner for all of its members. The event brought together more than 75 clubhouse members and friends for a meal at the facility located just a stone's throw from Fellowship's Fall River headquarters. "We really appreciate the contribution of both the Fall River Food Pantry and Saint Anne's Hospital in making today's meal possible," said Clubhouse Director Frank Pace. "We also appreciate the assistance we get from The Community Friends for Human Services, Inc." added Pace. FHR supports individuals in their recovery from mental illness and co-occurring disorders (i.e., substance use, developmental disability, related chronic health conditions). FHR operates 80 community-based programs in the states of Delaware, Georgia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Maine. Click here for more photos and text.
The Greater Fall River Youth Violence Prevention Task Force  and the School Community Partnership hosted a training on the "Opioid Crisis: Current Trends and Local Response" on November 22, 2016 in the Room 251 Restaurant at Diman Regional Vocational High School. Fall River Substance Abuse Prevention Grants Coordinator Michael Aguiar and Fall River Police Captain Joseph Cabral presented information about the crisis, both locally and nationwide, to a group of about forty professionals, including representatives of local school, police, Bristol County Sheriff's Office, Bristol County District Attorney and a number of other agencies. While the prescription drug abuse crisis has diminished somewhat over the past five years due to a number of prevention efforts, the opioid overdose rate has skyrocketed. "That's when heroin started increasing," stated Aguiar. Click here for a video the first 20 minutes of Mr. Aguiar's talk and here for more photos and text.
Fall River Mass In Motion coordinator Julianne Kelly was invited to participate in a Health Impact Assessment (HIA) Training  offered at the Brockton Public Library on November 18, 2016. The invitation was based on the HIA that was done in 2012 on the Alfred J. Lima Quequechan River Trail that had been proposed at the time. The Trail construction was funded and subsequently opened for public use in June of 2016. Plans were first presented in April, 2011 and reviewed in 2012 along with other efforts to make Fall River more bicycle-friendly. The HIA Report completed in 2012 suggested a number of potential health benefits from the use of the Trail by residents of one of the poorest neighborhoods in the City of Fall River where the Trail is located. Ms. Kelly described how those benefits have accrued since the Trail opened in June of 2016. The Trail is an integral part of the Fall River Mass In Motion 1422 Project.  Click here for a 27-minute video of her presentation and here for more photos and text.
The HealthFirst Family Care Center held its Third Annual Health Fair at its Quarry Street headquarters on November 17, 2016. The event included a very popular raffle for a variety of prizes, one in which, in order to win, participants had to visit each table and get a stamp. The tables featured, among others, a blood pressure and blood sugar screening, a table featuring the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Program, a table for the HealthFirst Dental Clinic, and table for the diabetes prevention program at the Fall River YMCA. HealthFirst is one of two federally-qualified community health centers that provide a resource for people struggling through difficult times, whether unemployed, a single parent or a recent immigrant. The Center offers a full range of medical and dental services and also houses the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Program, the Standard Pharmacy drug store, and Southcoast Radiology Services. Click here for a five-minute video of the event and here for more photos and text.
Three hundred students and family members were treated to an early Thanksgiving dinner at the Morton Middle School on November 17, 2016. "This was the brainchild of Principal Patterson," stated Community and Family Partnership Coordinator Maureen Estes Flanagan. "It was my pleasure to work with her, staff and volunteers from our parents to make it a success," she added. "It's a great opportunity for our staff and all of our families to get together to enjoy a meal," noted Principal Sheryl Patterson. The meal was made possible by Whitson's Food Service. Following each of the three seatings and on their way to pick up dessert at the end of the hall, guests could stop by and speak with representatives of a dozen local agencies. Click here for a two-minute video of the event and here for more photos and text.
Parents, caregivers and their children gathered for the third session of the fall Parent Academy program, this time held at the Greater Fall River Children's Museum on November 17, 2016. The program focused on early childhood and featured four classes: 1) "Brain Building in Progress", 2) "Bouncing Back", 3) "You're Not My Friend," and 4) "Not Talking Yet? Not to Worry, Talk Together." The evening began with free pizza, and then, while parents went to the four classes, the children got to play downstairs in several of the Museum's playrooms. "I think the parents really appreciated the chance to focus on the particular needs of their children," stated project coordinator Barbara Allard, "The small classes gave each parent the chance to address their unique concerns," she added. The Parent Academy will resume in January with another series of three sessions covering a variety of topics of interest to parents and other caregivers. Click here for more photos.
Like other cities around the country that are experiencing chronic homelessness, the City of Fall River has been developing resources to assist this population To raise awareness and to celebrate what's working in Fall River, staff from Steppingstone's First Step Inn led a candlelight vigil in the parking lot next to Steppingstone headquarters on North Main Street on November 17, 2016. The program began with remarks by Rosa Medeiros describing the new facility expected to be completed in March 2017. She was followed by Rev. Brian Weeks of Solomon's Porch who offered a prayer and three speakers describing their own experiences with homelessness. The program ended with a prayer by Rev. Tom Mello, also of Solomon's Porch, and a rendition of "Amazing Grace" by soloist Kate Marin. Click here for a 24-minute video of the event and here for more photos and text.
UMass-Dartmouth Assistant Professor Meredith Dove, Ph.D., worked with Partners for a Healthier Community to organize a directed conversation with childcare providers on nutrition and physical activity. Held in the new YMCA Learning Center on November 16, 2016, the session invited staff to discuss initiatives to prevent childhood obesity in early childcare settings. Held in the new YMCA Learning Center on November 16, 2016, the session invited staff to discuss initiatives to prevent childhood obesity in early childcare settings and learn from one another about strategies and challenges of implementing best practices for nutrition and physical activity in early childcare settings. Click here for a two-minute video. Click here for more photos and text describing the gathering.
The Massachusetts Public Health Association (MPHA) held its Annual Meeting and Expo at the DCU Center in Worcester on November 16, 2016. Partners Executive Director David Weed attended the event that focused on "#NoRacialJusticeNoPublicHealth" (#NRJNPH!). Executive Director Rebekah Geweirtz introduced Opening Keynote Speaker Sandro Galea of the Boston School of Public Health and Commissioner Monica Bharel followed by a racial equality panel . MPHA Presdent-elect Jessica Collins then introduced the Lunch Keynote Speaker, Camara Jones ,  President of the American Public Health Association, who gave a riveting presentation. Following lunch, participants attended five breakout sessions to give input on prioritizing goals for the coming year: 1) Healthy Affordable Food, 2) Build Environment, 3) Universal Public Health Protections, 4) Community Health Integration, and 5) Economic Justice. Click here for more photos and text.
Students who attend the Viveiros Elementary School began their first "Walking School Bus" of the school year on November 16, 2016. The "Bus" will leave from the Sunset Hill Housing Development every day of the week throughout the remaining school year, thanks to School Vice Principal Frederick McClelland who has begun the daily walks. Walking to school has been a primary objective of Partners School Wellness Coordinator Marcia Picard who organizes walk to school events twice a year at all of the Fall River Public Schools. "With all of the attention on academic achievement, children's physical health is too often ignored as an essential part of learning," stated Picard. "Similar walking groups now head to the Doran Community School, the Letourneau Elementary School and the Fonseca Elementary School, demonstrating that it can be done safely and with lots of participation from children," she added. Click here for a three-minute video of the first day of the Viveiros walk and here for more photos and text
Fifteen school and agency representatives gathered on November 15, 2016 at the Parent and Community Engagement Center at B.M.C. Durfee High School to hear Nancy Lawson of Catholic Social Services (CSS) explain the rules and regulations for working with homeless families. CSS is the organization contracted by the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development to assist homeless families with emergency shelter assistance. The complexity of regulations and procedures has resulted in considerable confusion for agency personnel who encounter families in the course of their work. The purpose of the Summit was to bring agency representatives together in one room in order to get clear answers as well as to discuss ideas for improving the flow of information. "We found the session to be very helpful," stated Fall River Schools' McKinney-Vento Homeless Liaison Barbara Allard. "The next step is to put this information in an accessible written format for everyone at the agencies to use." Click here for more photos and text.
Dozens of people at the YMCA on Sharps Lot Road in Swansea stopped by to talk to Dara Midwood, Program Director  for the Diabetes Prevention Program on World Diabetes Day, November 14, 2016. The Program is being offered by the YMCA Southcoast at their locations in Dartmouth, Fall River, New Bedford and Wareham as well as the Swansea location. Research has shown that 15-30 percent of overweight people with pre-diabetes will develop type2 diabetes within five years unless they lose weight and increase their physical activity. More than 200 Ys across the country help thousands of people reduce their risk for developing type 2 diabetes with the Program. This small-group program helps people with prediabetes eat healthier, increase their physical activity, and lose weight, which can delay or even prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes. People at the Swansea location were offered the chance to find out if they are at risk by taking a quick paper and pencil test. Click here for a four-minute video the program and here for more photos and text.
Members and guests of the Southcoast Worksite Health & Wellness Collaborative met at the Fall River YMCA on November 10, 2016 for a brief forum. The event was an opportunity for employers and human relations personnel to meet up and share their wellness ideas as well as to hear about low or no-cost resources that they could use for worksite wellness programs. The first portion of the program featured a panel of of two experienced worksite wellness coordinators -- Kristi Aimone of Southcoast Health and Susan Potvin of Family Service Association -- as well as an employer, James Riley, CEO of Better Community Living. The second half featured resource providers Annemarie Holly speaking about the annual Greater Fall River Fitness Challenge, Dara Midwood talking about the YMCA Southcoast Diabetes Prevention Program, and Shioban Torres, DrPH, MPH of the Mass. Department of Public Health talking about the Working on Wellness Program and the Worksite Wellness Tax Credit. Click here for a  40-minute video of the first panel, here for a 30-minute video of the second panel and here for more photos and text.
Seven students from Durfee High School and Diman Regional High School attended the first of five sessions that will be provided to various groups of youth around the city to learn how to confront discrimination and prejudice in their own lives and the lives of their fellow students held on November 9, 2016 at the Fall River Boys and Girls Club. The training is a project of United Neighbors of Fall River and Partners and was led by Diman Regional Technical High School Adjustment Counselor Michaela Hetzler who took the group through a series of exercises that illustrated examples of microaggression and implicit bias that they encounter and then asked them to think of a variety of strategies to effectively confront those situations. "These students really get it and demonstrate a remarkable ability to think on their feet," commented Hetzler. "Once they complete the training, we're going to see them taking an active role within their schools and organizations to make a difference in how people respond to instances of prejudice and discrimination." Click here for more photos and text.
The Bristol Community College's (BCC) Civic Engagement Program is designed to enhance student learning through the integration of academic learning in courses or through participation in community service, while encouraging civic engagement, social responsibility, development of workforces and community leadership skills and the ability to reflect on the connection between civic engagement and academic achievement. A recent study revealed that students who participated in Service Learning courses showed higher rates of persistence (remaining in school) than non-participating students (86% vs. 78%). The Advisory Board met on November 2, 2016 to share their thoughts about students, faculty and their community partners who are participating in Civic Engagement through unpaid service in community settings. The agenda also included a report on the Mobile Food Market that engages many BCC students in Service Learning . Click here for more photos and text.
Local professionals came together at the Boys and Girls Club for their 40th Annual Fall Training of the Greater Fall River Child Protection Council (CPC) on November 2, 2016. The event, titled "Making Calm Your New Normal", featured Beth Williamson Ruse who presented a five-part session on the Mind-Body Connection, including 1) Relax and Be Well, 2) The Art of Appreciation, 3) Empathy and the Tone of Communication, 4) Mindfulness: The Pathway to the Present, and 5) Breathing Basics. An agency award was presented to Gifts to Give, and an individual award was presented to Robin Jones, Director of the Early Intervention Division of People, Incorporated. Formed in 1976 as a project of the Clinical Social Work Department of Saint Anne's Hospital, the Child Protection Council deals with issues and problems related to the network of children's protection care. The Council meets on the first Wednesday of each month at the Boys and Girls Club, 803 Bedford Street, Fall River, from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Click here for a 15-minute video of the award presentations and the first part of Ms. Ruse's presentation and here for more photos and text.
Fall River Mass In Motion coordinator Julianne Kelly invited officials from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health's Fall River Mass In Motion 1422 Project to tour the the new Alfred J. Lima Quequechan River Trail on October 31, 2016. The Trail is at the center of the 1422 Project in Fall River. Named for local historian and planner Alfred J. Lima, the Trail follows a plan for a Quequechan River Greenway, drawn up by Lima, that includes improvements to Britland Park. Plans were first presented in April, 2011 and reviewed in 2012 along with other efforts to make Fall River more bicycle-friendly. The project created a ten foot wide paved surface with three foot grass shoulders that runs over a former railroad bed and five timber bridges to connect with Britland Park and Rodman Street and eventually the existing path that begins at the Westport Town line along South Watuppa Pond. The project was funded by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation and by the Gateway City Park Program of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.  Click here for a 12-minute video of the walk and here for more photos and text.
Following five years of work, the Trustees of Reservations (TTOR) Youth Conservation Corps has completed work on a trail along the south end of Cook Pond to create a rustic walking path and reclaim and create public access to this beautiful space. In order to complete the project, Friends and colleagues of Partners School Wellness Coordinator Marcia Picard decided to donate a bench in memory of her mother, who died at the age of 98 two years ago. "To have something dedicated to my Mom is extremely heartwarming," said Picard. "It's a wonderful way to remember someone who was so connected to the earth," said United Neighbors of Fall River Executive Director Wendy Garf-Lipp. Mass in Motion Fall River plans to continue work around the circumference of the Pond to eventually create a three and a half-mile walking loop all the way around this space that has been inaccessible to the public for decades. Click here for a three-minute video of the dedication and here for more photos and text.
AHA! Fall River featured Moons and Monsters on October 20, 2016 with a variety of events including an EForAll "Pitch" Contest, artists' exhibits at the Cherry and Web Gallery, pumpkin decorating, a Monster Mash dance event, a market place for local artists at Government Center, and a variety of musical offered at multiple locations. "The kids had a wonderful time dancing outside, so Julie Kelly will be happy with Mass in Motion," quipped organizer Sandy Dennis. AHA! Fall River was formed in June 2013 in collaboration with the New Bedford AHA! and the Community Foundation of Southeastern Massachusetts. AHA! stands for arts, history and architecture. The organization held its first event on June 21, 2013 and has held eleven events since then. The purpose of the organization is to develop collaborative relationships in order to expand and sustain arts and cultural programming in the two cities. Click here for a seven-minute video of the event and here for more photos and text.

The Massachusetts Public Health Association (MPHA) held its inaugural Policy Council Meeting for the 2016-2017 year on September 21, 2016 at Union Station in Worcester, MA, and a follow-up meeting on November 4th. MPHA Executive Director Rebekah Gewirtz welcomed former members and new members and described the new Health Equity Policy Framework that will provide a guide to the MPHA board, Policy Council, staff and partners. Director of Public Policy and Campaign Strategy Maddie Ribble described the 2014-2017 strategic plan which identified diversity as a core focus area, but has been changed to more explicitly address racism. Field Director Andrea Freeman helped Council members get to know one another through a series of warm-up exercises. Following lunch, Council members were invited to give feedback on the Framework through comments posted on the wall. Click here for a  three-and-a-half-minute video of the Ms. Gewertz' opening remarks and here for more photos and text.


Get ready to stand in the Winners' Circle of the 10th Annual Greater Fall River Fitness Challenge!

Starts with the opening Health Fair on Saturday, January 14th, 10:00 a.m. to Noon.

Ends with a Finale on April 21st where the new winners will be announced!

Start getting your team together now so you'll be ready to compete!


Healthy City Fall River Update is sent to over 500 participants in Healthy City Fall River, a partnership between the City of Fall River and Partners for a Healthier Community with a mission to improve the health status of all those who live or work in the City of Fall River. For further information about Healthy City Fall River, go to To see all of the web pages describing Healthy City activities, go to In order to send announcements of Healthy City events or to subscribe or unsubscribe to this newsletter, contact the Coordinator at Agencies: please add this e-mail address or our fax number (508-324-2429) to your standard media notification list so we can cover your event on the Healthy City Update.