The Dakota County Board of Commissioners presented three 2019 Public Health Achievement Awards on Tuesday, April 9 in continued celebration of National Public Health Week.
This year's recipients are Patricia Bennett, the aquatic programs coordinator for School District 196; the West St. Paul ACT on Alzheimer's group; and Maddie Kegley, a youth from South St. Paul who started Books Against Bullying.
Bennet believes “every child deserves a chance to learn to love the water." She is a tireless advocate for ensuring community members receive basic swimming and water safety skills. Throughout her tenure, She has overseen the instruction of more than 65,000 students. Last year, the District 196 aquatics programs received the Top Training Provider award from the American Red Cross for having the highest number of students with safety certifications.
West St. Paul ACT on Alzheimer's is a group leading the public in education and action that supports a dementia-friendly community. Their goals are to increase residents' knowledge about dementia and to raise businesses' awareness of the impact on their customers. The group's work has resulted in increased awareness among employers and employees, enhanced customer service, and greater connections to support caregivers. More than 200 individuals and 35 businesses have become Dementia Friends, and community members raised $2,500 for the Alzheimer's Association through a Memory Walk. Other communities across Minnesota have looked to West St. Paul for advice and best practices.
Kegley is a sixth-grader from South St. Paul who founded Books Against Bullying. Through this effort, she collects book donations and sells them for $1 each. She donates the money raised to the ShineALigh7 Foundation, which supports anti-bullying, suicide prevention and youth mental health awareness efforts. She has continued fundraising and has raised more than $2,000 for ShineALigh7 Foundation and an additional $3,000 for other causes she is passionate about, including donations to local families impacted by suicide.
The Dakota County Board established the Public Health Achievement Awards in 2000 to recognize and honor contributions of Dakota County residents who devote their time, energy and talents to creating a healthy future for their fellow county residents.