by Cara Gardner

Healthy Competition -- Olympia, Wash. -- Governor Gary Locke recently singed a proclamation declaring Sept. 18 as Washington Health Day, subsequently kicking off the Healthiest State in the Nation campaign. Sponsored by the Washington Health Foundation, an organization dedicated to solving the state's most pressing health care problems, the effort is a two-year campaign aimed at educating citizens about their health, the health care system and healthy living. More than 20 statewide organizations have endorsed the campaign.

"The campaign is an outgrowth of the health leadership summit we held last October in Seahawks Stadium. We had people [come from] all over the state, and we kept hearing that we need to have a way to educate and engage the greater public," says Piper Thornburgh, spokeswoman for the WHF.

Several institutions rank states according to health indexes, which are based on a number of determining factors that measure the overall health and health care of a state. Currently, Washington state ranks as the 11th- and 13th-healthiest state in the nation, according to the United Health Foundation and the Morgan Quitno organization, respectively. WHF wants to change the state's ranking to No. 1.

"It's going to take work on both ends," Thornburgh says, "not just eating more vegetables and walking. It's about understanding how the systems work together to improve health."

Building Futures -- SPOKANE -- This week, Home Depot employees have teamed up with YouthBuild Spokane, a local organization that helps 18- to 25-year-olds get construction training. To celebrate the company's 25th anniversary, Home Depot sent 25 employees to help YouthBuild Spokane with a housing project on the South Hill.

"[Home Depot volunteers] are doing everything from landscaping to vinyl siding, insulation, dry wall, taping and painting," says Anne Millane, director of the Center for School to Work at the Educational Service District 101, which coordinates YouthBuild Spokane. "They have donated $1,000 worth of tools to the program."

For the past two days, and through the end of today, Sept. 30, volunteers are working on a project on the corner of 35th and Regal.

YouthBuild Spokane has been funded since 2003 by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The program was originally created by the ESD 101's Spokane Service Team as a way to offer high school dropouts on-site training and classroom activities that lead to a GED or high school diploma. Recently, the program won a $640,000 grant

"We've had more than 600 young people serve a term of service and more than 260 housing projects -- a lot of those new homes," says Millane. Participants in YouthBuild Spokane receive the federal minimum wage while enrolled in the program, as well as health insurance, childcare assistance and food stamps. Upon completion of the program, they receive $4,725 for college or student loans.

Healing Power -- SPOKANE -- A diverse group of local religious leaders are teaming up to speak out against domestic violence next week. On Tuesday, Muslim, Presbyterian, Seventh Day Adventist, Jewish, Evangelical, Lutheran, Buddhist and Catholic leaders will engage in a panel discussion on how their different faiths can play a role in preventing domestic violence, supporting victims and shaping policy at the Interfaith Council's "Power of Faith: Liberating Domestic Violence Victims" workshop.

"We have great hope that as faith groups become ever more vocal against domestic violence, we will finally see this crisis ebb," says Sandi Thompson-Royer, director of the Interfaith Council's Circle of Caring Project.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and the Interfaith Council has worked for more than two years with the YWCA's Alternatives to Domestic Violence program, the Spokane County Violence Consortium and Cookies Retreat Center to put on this Interfaith Workshop.

The workshop will be held at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Spokane (4340 W. Fort George Wright Dr.), from 1 pm to 6:30 pm. The Keynote speaker will be Debra Adams, a survivor of domestic violence who is dedicated to education and prevention. A candlelight service will be held from 6:30 to 7:30 that evening. Registration is required for the daytime workshop; the candlelight service is free and open to the public, and childcare is provided.

To register for the Interfaith Workshop, call 329-1410.

Publication date: 09/30/04

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