Profile of the Week: Strong Women

Strong Women

The primary objective of the StrongWomen™ Program is to help communities nationwide to implement safe and  effective strength training programs for midlife and older women.

Women begin to show decline in muscle mass beginning at age 30 and if this condition is not reversed, women will have reduced strength and other severe consequences as they age. Women need to maintain a healthy level of muscle mass at all ages for optimal health through weight lifting two or more times per week,  but only 17.5% of women meet these recommendations. The Strong Women program, developed by Tufts University, is designed for women to increase muscle strength by strength training for 2-3 sessions per week for fourteen weeks. This strength training program is now being offered through MSU Extension offices in Montana, and the results have been inspiring.  Participation, improved functional strength and balance, and a strong sense of camaraderie and achievement are positive outcomes for Montana’s rural women. These trainings are conducted by Extension educators who have been certified to teach Strong Women programs.

About Strong Women:
The StrongWomen™  program is an evidence-based strength training program developed by the staff of  the Hancock Center at the Friedman School at Tufts University. The primary objective of the StrongWomen™ Program is to help communities nationwide to implement safe and  effective strength training programs for midlife and older women.

Who should attend trainings:
* Professional and community leaders who are working with a non-profit and are interested in the fields of public health, nutrition and exercise or wellness should attend.

* Potential program leaders should be regularly lifting weights/strength training, be in good physical health, and be able to collaborate with local agencies or organizations to provide the Strong Women program in their community.


For a list of all locations and contact information, click here



CATCHThe CATCH Program established that healthy habits in childhood can promote behavior changes that can last a lifetime.

CATCH stands for a Coordinated Approach To Child Health.  CATCH  is a coordinated school health program that promotes physical activity, healthy foods and tobacco prevention. CATCH reaches kids from preschool through 8th grade and has been implemented in thousands of schools across America and Canada. In 2003, St. Patrick Hospital saw a need in Western Montana for a childhood obesity prevention program, and they adopted CATCH because it is evidence-based and supported by a national program.

CATCH school, after school and early childhood programs can be found in all 50 states, Canada and US Department of Defense Schools around the world.  Most school districts adopt and support the program on their own; St. Patrick Hospital’s structure however, is unique.  St. Patrick Hospital sponsors CATCH in over a dozen Western Montana school districts and community sites through the funding of curriculum materials and one staff member, who gives on-going technical support and training.  Today, Missoula CATCH is considered a community wide CATCH program that can be found in all Missoula County Public Schools and community events.  Locals are talking the CATCH talk!

CATCH is effective because healthy behaviors are reinforced through a coordinated approach – in the classroom, in the cafeteria, in physical education, at home, and after school. And, most importantly, CATCH makes it fun to learn about healthy behaviors!


Five Components of CATCH:

1. CATCH – Physical Activity

2. Go for Health – Classroom Curriculum

3. Eat Smart – School Nutrition

4. Home Team – Family Activities

5. Community – Implemented Programs

In Physical Education

Combines high energy, non-elimination activities with teaching strategies that keep kids moving and having fun. CATCH PE significantly increases physical activity levels of students during PE class, and provides for a variety of learning experiences for students of all abilities

In the Classroom

Teaches children to identify, practice, and adopt healthy eating and physical activity habits. Hands-on activities encourage changes in behavior that support healthful eating and physical activity patterns to reduce the risks of heart disease, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, and obesity.

In the Cafeteria

The CATCH Program considers school cafeterias an extension of the classroom. Through the Eat Smart component, breakfast and lunch become opportunities for children to learn, practice, and adopt healthy eating habits. School food service personnel prepare healthier meals and help coordinate healthy messages with the rest of the school.

At Home

The CATCH Family component is designed to get students, parents, and extended family members involved in practicing and adopting healthy eating and physical activity behaviors at home. By doing so, the home environment becomes an extension of the CATCH Program at school.

In the Community

CATCH Kids Club (CKC) is a physical activity and nutrition education program designed for after-school and summer settings. CKC is user-friendly that both children and staff enjoy!

Lisa Tims – CATCH Coordinator

St. Patrick Hospital

500 W. Broadway, Missoula, MT 59802


Phone:  406-329-5759



MOVE Missoula

MOVE Missoula is a long-term community based initiative led by the Missoula City-County Health Department.

The initiative uses population based strategies to improve health and wellness by increasing daily physical activity. MOVE Missoula created MOVE Minutes. MOVE Minutes explain how much physical activity adults and children need every day to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Missoula offers a healthy built environment to encourage residents to increase their MOVE Minutes by walking, biking, or playing. This program also offers advice on easy ways to increase MOVE Minutes each day.

MOVE Missoula works on different programs to increase the health and wellness of community members. MOVE is currently working on the Active Kids Project. This project targets children and families that demonstrate the least amount of physical activity. The program will include after school projects, focus groups with family members, and much more. MOVE also gathered baseline BMI’s for all third graders in 2007. This data will help show the success of future programs targeted at the youth.


Garden City Harvest Missoula

Garden City Harvest builds community through agriculture by growing produce with and for people with low-incomes, offering education and training in ecologically conscious agriculture, and using our sites for the personal restoration of youth and adults.

7 Community Gardens (shared space and tools)

4 Community Farms (CSAs and Education, local food in Missoula, food bank)

Youth Harvest Program (employment and therapy for youth in the Youth Drug Court system and Youth Homes)

Community Education Program (summer camps, school field trips, 4 school-side gardens, garden and farm curriculum development and implementation)


Community Education educates our community through internships, school garden curriculum, farm field trips, summer camps, and classes on cooking, gardening, and farming. We work to connect Missoulians to their food and the place it is grown.  Taking a hands-on, farm-based approach, our education program encourages youth and adults to explore connections between food, agriculture, science, and their everyday lives. We offer place-based education programs at the PEAS Farm campus and community gardens, and offer school-side education in our school gardens.

Community Gardens create and sustain community gardens at sites located in low-income neighborhoods throughout the city.  Each of our community gardens provides the participants with a 15 by 15 foot plot, tools, water, compost, straw, common space, and the knowledge and guidance of a garden coordinator.  Weekly programs for young gardeners include lessons about gardening, botany, food sources, and cooking.


Neighborhood Farms grow food for those in need at our neighborhood farms: the North Avenue Youth Farm (in partnership with Youth Homes), Orchard Gardens, River Road, and the PEAS Farm, a collaboration with the University of Montana Environmental Studies Program. While each farm is unique, they all share in growing food for Missoulians in need, distributed by the Poverello Center, Missoula Food Bank, Youth Homes, and other agencies around town.


photo by Erick Greene

Youth Harvest Project offers therapeutic support and employment for adolescents through the Youth Harvest Program. Adolescents referred by our partners the Youth Drug Court and Youth Homes, work at our sites and operate a Mobile Market.  They harvest and deliver fresh produce to sell at very low-cost to seniors and people with disabilities who live at subsidized housing facilities in town. Garden City Harvest has partnered with the Human Resource Council to provide at-risk youth with an employment opportunity. For Youth Harvest participants based at the PEAS Farm, we provide therapeutic support in addition to employment.

photo by Erick Greene

Target Population Size: 50,000—low-income population of Missoula—getting food to those who cannot otherwise access it


  • In 2010, Garden City Harvest food was part of more than 20,000 meals eaten through the Missoula Food Bank and Poverello Center.
  • Our Community Garden program now has 290 plots in 7 locations around Missoula.  More than 500 people use these plots to grow fresh produce for their families.
  • Our MobileMarket, operated by Youth Harvest Project teens, distributed fresh produce to 120 people who live in subsidized housing including seniors and people with disabilities.
  • More than 2,800 local school children participated in field trips, service days and summer camps at the PEAS farm.
  • Another 700 kids learned about growing food in their very own school gardens.
  • Garden City Harvest has 4 active school gardens.  This summer we will add another at Paxson Elementary School and are hoping to build a garden at Franklin Elementary School in the 2011-’12 school year.

Current Funding Sources: Individual donors, grants, program revenue

Needs: general funding, land security-owning the land or long-term agreement, funding more donations to food bank, other organizations in town, funding for youth programs and youth therapy

Website URL:

 Partner Organizations:

  • Catholic Diocese of Helena
  • City of Missoula
  • Flagship Program
  • Glengarra Place
  • Holy Trinity Catholic Church
  • homeWord
  • Missoula Food Bank
  • Missoula County Public Schools including Lowell School, Meadow Hill School, Paxon School, Washington School, Willard School
  • Missoula Housing Authority
  • Missoula Manor Affordable Housing
  • Missoula Parks and Recreation
  • Missoula Public Works
  • Missoula Youth Drug Court
  • Mountain Home Montana
  • Poverello Center including the Joseph Residence at Maclay Commons
  • Salvation Army’s Silvercrest Apartment Community
  • United Way of Missoula County
  • University Of Montana, Missoula:
  • Vantage Villa Affordable Housing
  • Watson Children’s Shelter
  • Youth Homes
  • YWCA
  • WIC Program
  • Environmental Studies Program
  • ASUM

photo by Andrea Zoltanetzky

Montana Disability and Health Program


The Montana Disability and Health Program is organized to respond to the health priorities of Montanans with disabilities across the life course, with a goal to promote and maximize health, prevent chronic disease, improve emergency preparedness, and increase quality of life. The program is funded through a cooperative agreement between the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, Disability and Health Branch, Division of Human Development and Disability, and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Picture1Living Well with a Disability Improves Health and Saves Money

Public Health Issue

People with disabilities compose about 20% of the U.S. population but account for nearly half of all medical expenditures. A combination of medical, rehabilitation, and community advancements have increased the life expectancy of people with disabilities. A challenge for public health is to ensure these added years are quality life years. The Living Well with a Disability (LWD) evidence-based health promotion program can help meet this challenge by reducing the effects of health problems and associated medical expenses for people with physical disabilities or mobility impairments.

Program Overview

A national study funded by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Disability and Health Program indicated that a state would save approximately $81,000 to $240,000 above the cost of the LWD program when implemented with 240 participants each year. The Research and Training Center on Disability in Rural Communities (RTC:Rural), in partnership with MTDH, provides the organizational and facilitator training and technical assistance to Centers for Independent Living and other community agencies that implement LWD workshops. LWD teaches skills to manage health, solve problems, communicate with service providers, avoid frustration and depression, increase physical activity and nutrition, and maintain healthy lifestyle practices.

Making a Difference

Since February 1995, RTC:Rural staff trained 1017 LWD facilitators in 46 states, who served more than 8,100 adults with disabilities. The vast majority of trained facilitators were located in 14 of the 16 states with CDC Disability and Health programs ( cbddd/disabilityandhealth/index.html).
Since 2002, 609 LWD facilitators in current and past CDC Disability and Health funded states reached over 4,800 workshop participants, whose symptom-free days are estimated at having increased by 57,977 days. The estimated net benefit to healthcare payers is between $4.6 and $7.8 million.

Shaping Tomorrow

Contact your state’s long-term care programs to discuss LWD as a possible Medicaid reimbursable service through the Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) Waiver programs. For example, the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare approved the following service in two HCBS Waivers in Montana: “Classes on weight loss, smoking cessation, and healthy lifestyles such as ‘Living Well with a Disability’ offered by independent living centers.”

Contact Information

Meg Ann Traci, Ph.D

P: 406-243-0546 E:

M: 52 Corbin Hall, University of Montana, Missoula MT 59812

MT CVD and Diabetes Prevention Program logo

Montana Cardiovascular Disease and Diabetes Prevention Program

Diverse Montana Communities Deliver Lifestyle Change Program to Prevent Diabetes

Since 2008, Montana communities have been helping prevent type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease among adults at high risk through the Montana Cardiovascular Disease and Diabetes Prevention Program (CVDDPP).  The 10-month CVDDPP is based upon research evidence that intensive lifestyle change can prevent or delay the development of diabetes by 58% among adults at high risk.1

Lifestyle coaches educate and motivate participants to develop and maintain healthier eating and physical activity habits, which lead to weight loss and control.  These lifestyle coaches are registered dietitians, registered nurses, cardiac rehabilitation nurses, and exercise specialists trained to deliver the CVDDPP.

Eligibility criteria for the CVDDPP are based upon risk factors for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.  Adults aged 18 years and over with a Body Mass Index (BMI) ≥25 kg/m2, medical clearance from a doctor, a commitment to lifestyle change, and one of the following may participate:

  • History of pre-diabetes, impaired glucose tolerance, or impaired fasting glucose
  • History of gestational diabetes or birth to a baby weighing >9 lbs
  • High blood pressure (≥130/85 mmHg or treatment)
  • Dyslipidemia (triglycerides >150 mg/dL, LDL cholesterol >130 mg/dL or treatment, or HDL cholesterol <40 mg/dL for men and <50 mg/dL for women)
  • A1C between 5.7% to 6.4%


In Montana, an estimated 185,000 adults over age 20 have pre-diabetes.3 The rate of diabetes reported by adult Montanans increased from 2.8% in 1990 to 7.0% in 2010.4  Based on these rates, it is estimated that nearly 70,000 adult Montanans have diagnosed diabetes.5  Over 8% of deaths in Montana are diabetes-related.6


Participating in the program is an effective way to slow these trends.  Over 2,000 Montanans have participated in the prevention program since it began in 2008.  Here are the average 10 month program results:

  • Weight loss of 15.4 lbs
  • Blood pressure reduction from 133/81 mmHg to 127/78 mmHg
  • LDL cholesterol reduction from 123 mg/dL to 119 mg/DL
  • HDL cholesterol increase from 49 mg/dL to 51 mg/dL
  • Fasting blood glucose reduction from 102 mg/dL to 97 mg/dL


Fourteen sites and four telehealth sites currently deliver the CVDDPP in communities designated8 as

  • Urban: Billings
  • Rural: Missoula, Kalispell, Great Falls, Helena, Butte, Bozeman
  • Frontier: Libby, Choteau, Dillon, Baker, Colstrip, Ekalaka, Forsyth,  Miles City


Go to to contact the site near you, read news and journal articles, and learn more.  For more information, contact Diane Arave, the Montana Diabetes Project Quality Improvement Specialist in Prevention, at or (406) 444-0593.


References and Data Sources

1. Knowler WC, Barrett-Connor E, Fowler SE, Hamman RF, Lachin JM, Walker EA, Nathan DM; Diabetes Prevention Program Research Group: Reduction in the incidence of type 2 diabetes with lifestyle intervention or metformin. N Engl J Med 2002;346:393–402.

2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National diabetes fact sheet: national estimates and general information on diabetes and prediabetes in the United States, 2011. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2011.

3. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. National Diabetes Statistics, 2007 fact sheet. Bethesda, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, 2008.

4. Montana DPHHS, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.

5. U.S. Census Bureau: State and County QuickFacts.

6. Montana DPHHS, Office of Vital Statistics.

7. Vanderwood KK, Hall TO, Harwell TS, Butcher MK, Helgerson SD. The Montana Cardiovascular Disease and Diabetes Prevention Workgroup. Implementing a state-based cardiovascular disease and diabetes prevention program. Diab Care 2010;33:2543–2545.

Freedom Gardens

Freedom Gardens is a non-profit organization, working to develop a food production and education center in the heart of urban Missoula, MT. Our goal is to demonstrate innovative, climate-adaptive agriculture, while providing low-income families with freshly harvested, locally grown produce and nutrient dense value-added products.

freedom gardensFreedom Gardens is developing an innovative, climate-adaptive agricultural model that will serve concurrently as production and education center. We strive to exemplify community building and the positive health benefits associated with soil interaction. Our income-based classes teach individuals innovative and sustainable methods of seed sprouting, transplant/grafting, harvest, food preparation, food and seed preservation, seed storage, composting, aquaponics, and animal husbandry. The success of our ongoing program lies within our many volunteers. Our volunteers range in ages from pre-teens to the elderly – no hand is too nimble and no mind too feeble. While our success stories continue to grow, our top three to date include: teaching simply by doing, receiving a 4800 gallon aquaponics system donation, and developing over 2000 square feet of underutilized urban space into productive edible landscaping. Perhaps the greatest success story of all is that we’ve done this in under a year and our entire infrastructure to date has been 100% volunteer driven!


Partner Organizations: Missoula’s Sustainable Business Council [SBC], Community Food Agriculture Coalition of Missoula County [CFAC], and the Missoula County Fairgrounds.


Contact Information:

Heath N. Carey

• Co-Founder – Freedom Gardens
• 406.396.5147
• 1650 S. 10th W. Missoula, MT 59801


Chris Carlson

• Co-Founder – Freedom Gardens
• 406.370.3239
• 319 S. 5th W. Missoula, MT 59801


Check out their blog at and watch for their up and coming website,, to launch!


Community Food and Agriculture Coalition

CFAC logo new copy [Converted]Get involved this summer through our various volunteer workdays. Connect with community member and farmer friends while having fun in the sun!


The Community Food and Agriculture Coalition, CFAC works to strengthen Missoula County’s food system. We aim to achieve this through promoting sustainable agriculture, building regional self-reliance, assuring that all have equal access to healthy, affordable and culturally appropriate food, and advocating for local, state and national policies that promote our local food system.


Our volunteer opportunities vary depending on current projects and the season. Every community member interested in volunteering has experience that can benefit our mission. We strive to connect these interested parties to opportunities that will provide them with a rewarding volunteer experience.


Upcoming Volunteer Opportunities:

  • Monday, July 7th, 9 am-3 pm – Volunteer workday at a Hamilton farm. Lunch and unlimited coffee with be provided.

Location/Directions: Carpool from the Cabela’s parking lot in Missoula.

TO RSVP: Contact Kate at 406-273-8740  

  • Tuesday, July 22nd, 9 am-2 pm – Crop Mob! Join us for this fun volunteer workday at three different farms. As the name suggests, a mob of fellow community members will be looking to get their hands dirty while helping out farmer friends. Free lunch will be provided.

TO RSVP: Contact Kate at for more information.  

  • Wednesday, July 30th, 5-8 pmConserving Soil and Water – examples and stories of putting good tools to use at Foothill Farm.

Cost: $5, includes light supper

Location: 61240 Foothill Rd, St. Ignatius

Have you been wondering about ways that you can add innovative soil and water conservation practices into your operation?  Join us for this event partnering with NRCS to see some great tools in use at Foothill Farm and hopefully, a few more (more details to come!)

TO RSVPcontact Annie Heuscher at or 406-763-6862 by Monday, July 28th.

  • Tuesday, August 12th, 2-5 pm Gap & On-Farm Food Safety – farm walk through with food safety experts at Fresh Roots Farm

Cost: $5, includes snacks

Location: 41041 Mountain View Rd, Polson

We know that the rules are changing on food safety, but what do they mean?  On this field day, we’ll do a walk-through of Fresh Roots Farm with Karl Sutton and Darci Jones as well as two food safety experts, Jan Tusick and Nancy Matheson.  Together, you’ll be able to see the farm through the experts’ eyes:

  1. What are the problem areas?
  2. What are possible easy fixes?

We encourage you to bring your challenges and have the group help you brainstorm cheap and easy ways to make sure you’re being safe and careful with your products! This field day is occurring in partnership with the Western Montana Growers’ Coop and their group GAP certification pilot program.

TO RSVP: Contact Annie Heuscher at or 406-763-6862 by Friday, August 8th


Health Fair Dates: July 7th and July 22nd

Partner Organizations: Various farmers in Missoula and Bitteroot Valleys


For more information, contact Katie Zuck, Volunteer Coordinator, or Bonnie Buckingham, Executive Director

Katie Zuck: P:406.273.8740 E:

Bonnie Buckingham: P: 406.880.0543 E:

Or visit their website at



Bike/Walk Alliance for Missoula (BWAM)

BWAM Logo 201203

Bike/Walk Alliance Missoula (BWAM) is a non-profit, member-driven organization created to improve the safety, health and enjoyment of the Five Valley area by promoting and enhancing bicycling and walking for everyday transportation and recreation. Their goal is to make Missoula one of the best cities in North America for bicycling and walking.

BWAM is an organization that aims to benefit everyone as all we are all pedestrians at some point during travel. Additionally, BWAM works to make biking and walking more appealing to those who are interested but hesitant to ride a bike/walk for common trips and recreation.

BWAM has 8 major objectives:

(1) Build a broad-based constituency of bicycle riders and walkers of all ages and backgrounds throughout the Missoula area

(2) Promote the economic, health, and community benefits of bicycling and walking – through education and events

(3) Help bike riders, pedestrians and motorists learn how to travel responsibly and cooperatively

(4) Ensure that Missoula’s local governments allocate a fair share of financial and other public resources to enhance the biking and walking environment of Missoula

(5) Advocate for the adaptation and creation of streets in every part of Missoula that include safe, comfortable and well-designed components for biking and walking

(6) Ensure development of complete biking and walking networks, using trails and roads, seamlessly connecting every part of Missoula

(7) Promote the building and maintenance of world-class facilities, including bike parking and neighborhood greenways, sidewalks, and traffic calming devices

(8) Develop a self-sustaining and long-lasting organization to achieve our mission of promoting and enhancing bicycling and walking for everyday transportation and recreation.

BWAM is currently funded by member dues and is looking at potential grant funding.  Partner organizations include Dr. Chris Southall, Missoula Bike Source, Modwest Web Hosting, Mountain Line, Open Road Bicycles and Nordic, Run Wild Missoula, The Techxorcist, Alliance for Biking and Walking, Bike Walk Montana, League of American Bicyclists and Montana Nonprofit Association.

For more information about BWAM please visit their website or contact Jean Belangie – Nye at



RHI’s Rural Health Success Story Contest Winner: Missoula County’s Rural Clinic in Seeley, MT

Nutrition Program Offers Rural Clinic

Among the approximately 111,000 residents of Missoula County, many live in rural areas and towns outside of Missoula. Seeley Lake is one of these towns and has about 1,700 residents. While Seeley Lake is thought of by many, including full-time residents, as a tourist town, some families simply describe it as their home-the place they grew up. The mountains, the quiet and small-town feel are what people living there enjoy. At times though, these benefits can be a barrier to services that are only available in larger cities. The 55 miles between Missoula and Seeley Lake may not seem far during summer months, but long winters can make a drive to Missoula for an appointment difficult, and transportation is not always available.

The Missoula County Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Woman, Infants, and Children (WIC) has been holding an outlying clinic in Seeley Lake for over 25 years. This outlying clinic, and others like it, makes nutrition education, supplemental foods, growth monitoring, and health referrals  more accessible for families living outside Missoula who fall below 185% of US Poverty Income Guidelines.

Faith Chapel Church in Seeley Lake has housed the clinic for all the 25 years by opening its doors, and lighting the wood stove. This partnership has been instrumental in serving WIC families. For eligible participants, routine anthropometric measurements are performed, nutritional counseling and breast feeding support is offered, and health care referrals are made within the comfort of the building. A public health nurse also travels with WIC staff, and provides various other supportive services for families. The location of the clinic is accessible, warm and welcoming. Church toys are available for children to play with while parents visit with WIC staff. Participants leave with current nutrition information that fits their needs, and checks to be used at grocery stores that help them feed their families nutritious foods.

Nutrition is critical during pregnancy and preschool years, but so is social health.  Feelings of isolation can coincide with the benefits of living in a rural community. A few years ago, a young mom who had just moved to Seeley Lake came to the WIC clinic. She had expressed feeling overwhelmed with not knowing anyone and having two small children. During her WIC visit, she met another mom that was born and raised in Seeley Lake. They instantly started talking, and found out their children were about the same age. The long-time resident invited the new resident to a local toddler play group at the school and extended a hand of friendship. Although WIC has outlying clinics statewide, this particular rural clinic is impacting this community and some of its youngest residents by providing a sense of community, good nutrition, and support that will hopefully lay the foundation for a healthy future.


Questions? Please contact Debbie Hirshberg, the Outlying Clinic Coordinator for Missoula WIC,  for more information.

P: 406-240-3849   E: