By: Michael Campbell | Twitter: @itsthesoup
Posted: May 13, 2019 | 1:45 p.m.
DINWIDDIE – “If you can live well, then you can learn well. And if you can learn well, then you lead well.”
Those were the words of County Administrator Kevin Massengill as he explained the overarching themes of the county’s second annual Live Well Expo at Dinwiddie High School last Saturday morning, which was centered on educating the community on ways to eat, move, and live well while also connecting residents with services, and organizations ranging from local churches to social services and a host of others.
Much like last year, attendees were able to take part in health checks, try various foods and take part in hands-on demonstrations at a number of tables set up in the school’s cafeteria and interface with groups and agencies that some may not know even existed, which is one of the primary objectives of the Live Well Expo.
Dinwiddie Board of Supervisors Chairman William Chavis shows his moves with a group of dancers during last weekend’s Live Well Expo.
As access to adequate medical care are paired with pockets of poverty in portions of the county, and data suggesting that the life expectancy of those living in the county’s more developed portions of Dinwiddie in the northeast have a seven-years shorter lifespan than those living in other parts of the county, due to factors like drug use and violent crime, the county took proactive efforts to identify these challenges and begin working on solutions, which resulted in the birth of the Dinwiddie County Resource Council.
The council’s mission statement is, “Working together to build a community of empowered citizens” the diverse council made up of local, state, and federal agencies, local nonprofit organizations, business partners and members of the county’s faith-based community seeks to find ways to connect Dinwiddie County citizens with relevant resources.
According to Massengill, one of the first things the council noticed was that many of the county’s residents didn’t realize that there were resources readily available to them, leading to the creation of the Live Well Expo in 2018.
Saturday’s event serves as a springboard to a methodical effort by the county to help better educate residents young and old by connecting them with the right people and information to help make their lives better and through the county and school division’s joint partnership with the newly created faith-based council, other wellness-centered events have developed, like the school supply distribution event for the county’s kindergartners, known as “Learn Well.”
For Massengill, these initiatives are less about the government creating more services and more about the community becoming engaged and working hand-in-hand to support one another, with the county serving as the conduit to connect those wanting to help the community in whatever way they can with those seeking their services.
“As we continue to do this, sometimes government tries to create more services but, sometimes that service is already there but people don’t know it is there,” he explained. “If we already have someone who is doing the work, we should be able to connect them with those doing that work, instead of trying to create it and, sometimes, competing. It is about connecting the dots in a way that our citizens have a better understanding of what is out there.”
Vendors at last weekend’s expo offered fresh fruit and other treats, along with information about ways to live a healthy life and ways to connect with various community resources.
The Live Well Expo and the Learn Well event may be one-day occurrences on the calendar but the work of the Dinwiddie Resource Council beyond those events continues through the year as they are in the process of developing an online asset map which, once completed this year, will allow residents to go to the county’s website, search for a specific topic, like medical services, and be provided an interactive map showing where those resources are and how to connect with them.
“Our goal is not to repeat or duplicate what is already being done, but to direct people to where it is already being done,” Massengill said of the asset map.
When asked, Massengill said the map is “nearly complete” as the resource council had recently reviewed it during their meeting. Once it goes live, the map will continue to be maintained by county officials to provide the community with the current information with an expected roll out in June.
It was hard to stand still inside Dinwiddie High School’s cafeteria during last week’s expo as various activities got attendees active Saturday morning!
The next evolution of Dinwidide’s wellness concept, as Massengill alluded to, is developing the next generation of leaders as they are currently working with Dinwiddie County Public Schools officials to develop a “Lead Well” event, which will likely take the shape of a one-day event where people can learn about building connections with people, and other key skills and qualities that shape leaders.
At the end of the day, one of the aims of the council and efforts like the Live Well Expo is the connect those with resources, particularly those who may not be comfortable asking for help or being vocal about having a need they would like addressed.
“We are blessed here in Dinwiddie County to have a community of people who wants to help others so this gives people a better understanding of what is out there,” Massengill said. “Saturday’s event allows those individuals to be able to come to the Expo and get those health checks or be able to get some information they may not have had coming in.”
According to county officials, they are already beginning the planning for next year’s Live Well Expo after a successful and robust turnout.