NORMAN, OKLA (July 5, 2023) - Today, Cleveland County Commissioners voted to approve $900,000 in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding for the Cleveland County Health Department to support a variety of community programs at the Cleveland County Wellness Square (The Well).
“At the Cleveland County Health Department, we believe deeply in the idea of ‘No decisions about us without us.’ So when evaluating programming for The Well, our team looked to our county communities to assess what was most needed,” said Kate Cooper, director of community engagement of The Well. “Through monthly surveys, more than two hundred community members have weighed in on what additional services they would like to see at The Well, and that data drove the formulation of our plan for how to best utilize these ARPA funds. The teamwork between the county and The Well was essential to ensure we are being responsive to the needs of our community with these dollars, and we’re excited about this new programming.”
A partnership between the Cleveland County Health Department and the county, The Well opened Nov. 12, 2021. Since opening, The Well has provided free and low-cost classes including: fitness for all ability levels, cooking, nutrition, gardening, financial planning, mental health, and other continuing education opportunities related to wellness. These programs promote health and wellness for county residents of all income levels and serve as an aid to mitigate the economic impact of the pandemic.
“This ARPA package for The Well includes additional health and wellness program offerings to support the children and residents of Cleveland County, along with improvements to the campus,” said Cleveland County Commissioner Rod Cleveland. “Based on feedback from our extensive community engagement process including stakeholder meetings and surveys that allowed people to tell their stories, we identified areas of need which included public and behavioral health as priorities. Supporting and enhancing programs through The Well allows us to touch numerous lives of all ages.”
In January 2021, over 40 percent of American adults reported symptoms of depression or anxiety, up from 11 percent in the first half of 2019. Among other programs, this ARPA funding will support training opportunities for community members to identify and respond to mental health emergencies, as part of the health department’s strategy to mitigate the impact of the pandemic.
“We are proud to continue our robust partnership with the county health department,” said County Commissioner Rusty Grissom. “These American Rescue Plan monies will provide programming to support the children and families of Cleveland County through our farmer’s market and veteran support, as well as classes and events at The Well.”
The Well serves as home to the county’s Norman Farm Market, an outlet for SNAP, Double Up Oklahoma and the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program. These programs provide access to fresh produce and other healthy food options for vulnerable populations. Now, ARPA dollars will allow a wider range of the population to benefit through innovative initiatives to promote healthy eating and physical activity through the use of incentives.
“We’re grateful to our county commissioners for this ARPA funding that will raise awareness of farm fresh foods while also promoting increased physical activity,” said Farm Market Manager Tara McClain. “By connecting people to their food source and educating them on nutrition in a fun way, we are building a partnership with the people we serve and laying the foundation for the next generation. Using incentives that connect exercise to food that they choose for themselves, empowers people to make better choices for their health.”
For more information about programs and services currently offered at The Well, visit https://thewellok.org/ or call 405-366-0675.