Creating healthy communities


Creating healthy communities is more than just lifestyle habits such as a proper diet, exercise, and a good night’s sleep.

Rochelle Community Hospital hosted an event Wednesday evening for the public to learn the four key pillars of creating and sustaining healthy communities.

National speaker Karen McNenny explained the relevance and what she firmly believes will help to create a society where people not only survive but thrive.

McNenny’s tagline, “Community is the C.U.R.E.,” (Curiosity, Unity, Responsibility, Engagement) is rooted in humanity’s desire to be connected.

McNenny is spending the week in Rochelle presenting a series of conferences for RCH staff. Michelle LaPage, Community and Organizational Development Manager, said McNenny has shared her wisdom and insight to 175 of the hospital’s employees. LaPage had seen McNenny at an event downstate earlier this year and felt her message, which is mixed with some humor and relevance to people in all walks of life, is important to share.

“We wanted to provide motivation and inspiration at work and how they can improve themselves not only at their job, but also in the community,” LaPage said. “[McNenny’s] mission she shares…I thought that would resonate with people at the hospital. It is relatable.”

LaPage said she has received a tremendous amount of positive feedback from the hospital staff. One of the messages McNenny speaks about is that whatever happens at the workplace, employees tend to bring that home to the dinner table, and to their families — negative or positive. McNenny’s message relates to the domino or ripple effect in human interactions.



McNenny struck a chord with those in attendance, not only in the relatable sense, but also with a couple of group exercises aimed at bridging new relationships first beginning with pairing people with similar shoes. She encouraged the “sole” mates to share where they grew up — specifically what street they lived on — describing what it was like. Those then joined with two more to create a quartet to encourage more conversation, and what stepping stones brought them to Rochelle.

Throughout the presentation McNenny provided examples of each of the pillars and the belief that one small action is like a domino — it can affect everyone.



McNenny started performing at the age of 10 as a dancer and actress, growing up in performing theater. That carried her into graduate school where she specialized in behavioral health and human behavior. Admitting as the youngest of five in the family, McNenny learned watching relationships and navigated through life with her parent’s value system.

Combining all of that and discovering her passion and belief that “community is the cure” took her into speaking engagements at training and development seminars in the healthcare field. McNenny said her mentor gave her words of wisdom in seeking her career path, which she has been in for 17 years.

“One of my mentors said once you have a belief that’s your own that nobody can talk you out of, that’s your platform. Your confidence and commitment to it is going to be solid. I’m about social and community change and making a difference,” McNenny said. “If we can create more peaceful, harmonious, thriving work environments, I do know that radiates out to the community.”

McNenny has also been invited to speak at TED talks. Several of her approaches and how to identify problems and solutions in the workplace are discussed on her website.

Over 20 people attended Wednesday’s event.

Video News
More In Home