Cassadaga Valley Middle/High School Hosts Chautauqua County ‘Community Conversation’

In November 2015, New York State Commissioner Howard A. Zucker, M.D., J.D. issued an update on New York State progress in meeting its Prevention Agenda goals and provided guidance for the next cycle of collaborative community health planning to all counties in New York State. Millennium’s “Community Conversations” initiative, including the session at Cassadaga Valley Middle/High School is a direct outcome of that guidance.

Cassadaga Valley Middle/High School was the site recently of the first of six “Community Conversations” the Millennium Collaborative Care Community Engagement Team supported by assisting with facilitating group discussions and serving on the County’s 2016-2018 Prevention Agenda Planning Committee.


Organized with comprehensive assistance from Ann Morse Abdella, Executive Director, Chautauqua County Health Network/Chautauqua Integrated Delivery System/Chautauqua Region Associated Medical Partners, the “Conversation” engaged over 100 in a lively exploration and debate on the key theme: “What Would Make Our Community Healthier?”

“We enjoyed outstanding participation as a diverse group of community members were highly engaged and offered outstanding input,” said Catherine J. Lewis, Director of Community Based Initiatives, who co-facilitated with Millennium Collaborative Care team member Kimberly Backey, MEB Project Manager.

“Before we can serve as a catalyst for improvement, it’s absolutely vital that we engage community members and listen to their concerns and ideas. Ultimately, they identify the priorities and substantially help set the agenda for the next steps in the process.”

For example, Lewis continued, “improving the nutritional value of school lunches was just one area of several that garnered a great deal of energy and attention. As these ‘Conversations’ throughout Chautauqua County and other counties move forward, common themes will set the stage for collaboration between the right partners who can address and ultimately realize the changes the community is looking for.”


A tally sheet shows a few of the participants’ priority areas.


Millennium’s Catherine J. Lewis, Director of Community Based Initiatives, and Kimberly Backey, MEB Project Manager, facilitate the discussion.


Whether voting on priorities; or talking time out for play; enthusiastic participation was the order of the day at the Chautauqua County “Conversation.”


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