Through the program, UWNEMN and UFV will partner with local volunteers and venues across the region to host a different wellness activity each month. Activities will be announced quarterly, and veterans living or working in UWNEMN’s service territory can sign up for one, a few, or all of them, at no cost to them.
Veterans who sign up to receive a Veterans Wellness Passport ID will receive quarterly updates on upcoming activities before they’re released to the public as well as other local veterans’ services. They can also use their Passport ID Number to simplify their sign-up for future Veterans Wellness Passport Activities.
“We want to make this easy and fun,” said UWNEMN Community Impact Coordinator Michelle Lampton. “We want the program to be welcoming – whether you’re new to the area or new to a particular activity, or if you’ve lived here you whole life and are an expert at the month’s activity, there’s a place for you here!”
According to the Mayo Clinic, regular exercise builds confidence, increases social interaction, and helps people cope in a healthy way – and it doesn’t take a strenuous workout routine, either.
“Any physical activity that gets you off the couch and moving can help improve your mood,” the clinic’s web site reads.
Veterans Wellness Passport activities will range from traditional exercise to physical activity unique to our region. The first three activities of the year are: a six-week yoga course (in-person for a limited number or via Zoom) from April to May, a May bike ride on the Mesabi Trail, and a June fishing day-trip and fish fry. Equipment will be provided for activities if needed.
“This is all about removing barriers for local veterans to get together and explore wellness activities across our region,” Shay said. “That means making sure all the activities are accessible to veterans of any age, background, and experience level – and providing the necessary equipment.”
All Veterans Wellness Passport activities will be led by local volunteers.
30West Fitness and Recreation in Chisholm will be leading the May bike ride on the Mesabi Trail. Co-owner and Doctor of Physical Therapy with Big Stone Therapies, Nick Gigliotti, said the local fitness center signed on to lead a bike ride in hopes that the ride would be accessible for almost anybody.
“And we have a great deal of gratitude for the freedom that our servicemen and women have allowed us to have,” he added.
The May 11th bike ride is estimated to take an hour to an hour-and-a-half, and road bikes for the trail can be made available to those who sign up and request a bike by May 1st through a partnership with Bikes on Howard. Future rides through the Veterans Wellness Passport program may include mountain biking on a local trail, as well.
Our region’s bike trails give Iron Rangers outdoor opportunities and landscapes to enjoy that many other areas don’t possess, Gigliotti said.
“True gems right in our back yard,” he exclaimed. “Enjoying them on a bike allows you to soak in this beautiful nature while getting all the great physical and mental benefits that come with biking.”
The UFV committee is grateful for the early local support of the Veterans Wellness Passport program from businesses like 30West, Bikes on Howard, Rooted Circles yoga studio in Hibbing, and Veterans on the Lake Resort in Ely. They hope that as time goes on the program grows and that veterans will provide input on what kind of activities they’d like to see, perhaps even leading some of their own.
“We want this to be something that resonates,” Lampton said.
Here’s the link to the UWNEMN