New Group Provides Prevention Programs in Waupaca

A local group consisting of health care providers and professionals hope to equip people in the Waupaca area with classes and resources they need to be proactive and live a healthier life.

Throughout the year, THRIVES, or Teaming for Health & Resiliency Improvement Via Education and Support, will offer classes for those with chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, a fall prevention class and a class providing resources for caregivers.

“It’s a terrific opportunity for the community to take advantage of this program,” said Harvey Padek, health system coordinator for the Madison-based Wisconsin Institute for Healthy Aging (WIHA). “These are programs that work and really assist people with a chronic illness to do better and make their life easier and more fulfilling. It’s pretty cool stuff.”

Christie Gonwa, Aging and Disability Resource Unit Manager for Waupaca County, agreed, noting that the classes “can change lives as far as how people take care of themselves and are proactive in making their health better.”

Padek chose Waupaca as one of five Aging and Disability Resource Center prevention programs to work with in partnering with local health systems on community outreach. Those involved with THRIVES include WIHA, the Greater Wisconsin Agency on Aging Resources, ThedaCare, Chain O’ Lakes Clinic/Ministry Health Care, the Waupaca Senior Center, Bethany Home, the Waupaca Aging and Disability Resource Center, and Community Care, Inc.

Gonwa said such classes help reduce unnecessary use of medical services, copays and costs that people would have to pay out of pocket. Taking these classes gives participants a better quality of life. She has been involved with prevention programs since 2006. She hopes the THRIVES classes will draw in more people. “This is the first that we have partnered with the health care organizations for promotion,” she said. “What will make this stronger is having physicians and other medical personnel promote these programs to those who could benefit most.”

Padek is excited about the collection of minds working together for a common goal. “It brought other organizations to the same table, working together to launch and support evidence-based programs within the Waupaca area,” he said. “It’s really a team effort. It’s really refreshing. And hopefully it will transform into a successful outreach to the community and successful classes.”

These classes are all evidence-based, with clinical evidence showing them to be successful and often times reducing healthcare costs. They are also free to participants.

To register for upcoming classes, call (715) 258-1119 or visit ThedaCare’s web site at  If you have questions or would like more information, call Kristine Wiegman at the Aging and Disability Resource Center, Waupaca Branch, (715) 258-6400.