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Oakdale Wellness 50+: Citizens Leading Change

“Grassroots work is hard,” says Jackie Chlebeck, a member of the Oakdale Wellness 50+ leadership team. “It involves people and that means it’s complex. But is it also rewarding and fun.”

Jackie was one of the original Oakdale Wellness 50+ team members, starting in 2014. She had just turned 65 and had recently lost 40 pounds and reduced her blood pressure. “I was also a smoker from age 18 to 49,” says Jackie. “I know how hard it is to make changes in your life to improve health and well-being. I was able to do that, and I wanted to support others in doing it too.”

jackiepolly-web_400Polly Carlson joined the Wellness 50+ team in 2015. “I had been looking for a volunteer opportunity,” says Polly. “When one of the team members told me about Oakdale Wellness 50+ it seemed like a perfect fit. The Wellness 50+ team is a great group of people—ordinary citizens, motivated to make a difference in our community. Everyone brings different skills and talents but we are respectful of each others’ perspectives and work very well together.”

“I’m not an out-front leader,” says Jackie “but I’m a great supporter.” According to Polly, “One of Jackie strengths is that she’ll talk to anyone. I wouldn’t do that. That’s not me. But it’s so valuable to the team. I bring other skills and they are also valued in the group.”

Peer-to-Peer Community Work

The Oakdale Wellness 50+ team (currently 12 members) has provided remarkable leadership, and is making a real impact in Oakdale. “People really value that we are peer-to-peer,” says Jackie. To support their work, the Oakdale team has developed partnerships with the City of Oakdale, Washington County Public Health, local business such as HyVee and Cub Foods, communities of faith and local nonprofits. The Oakdale Discovery Center is the home base for the team’s efforts.

oakdale-wellness-work-11-17-sm_388Monthly events—with topics ranging from line dancing to yoga to aging and sexuality—have developed a strong following. The summer walking group provides an opportunity for people to increase physical activity but also provides social support for group members.

As part of its efforts to encourage physical fitness, the Oakdale team regularly administers the Rikli-Jones Senior Fitness Test—an assessment that helps people gauge their functional fitness and make a plan for improving it. The team also puts out an annual fitness challenge (in the first year 17 people completed the challenge; in the second year 25 did) and organizes fitness classes.

One of the team’s newest efforts is working with the City of Oakdale, police and EMT to create a dementia friendly community. To provide community awareness the team is planning a community meeting having an expert talk about Understanding Dementia & Alzheimer’s Disease. They are also working to create dementia window clings that will alert a first responder to the sensitive needs from the first contact.

Expanding Outreach

The Oakdale team does outreach in the community with flyers, a brochure, newspaper articles, a monthly blurb on KLBB radio and regular emails and Facebook posts as well as having a presence at community events such as the Oakdale Indoor Market.

As the team plans for 2018, they are focused on engaging more people in Wellness 50+ and developing stronger partnerships with local organizations and businesses. “Many of the people who are participating in our events and activities are already pretty aware of the need for healthy behaviors,” says Polly. “We want to take on the challenge of connecting with people who aren’t as naturally inclined to be involved but could benefit from being a part of Wellness 50+,” says Polly. “We need to make everyone feel welcome and to meet people where they are.”

To learn more, visit Oakdale Wellness 50+ on Facebook or contact the team at



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