re:TH!NK was established in 1992 as the Winnebago County Tobacco-Free Coalition. A program of the Winnebago County Health Department (WCHD), its focus was educating the community about the dangers of smoking and second-hand smoke. Since 2000, the Coalition has maintained a full-time health educator and coalition coordinator funded by Wisconsin's Tobacco Prevention and Control Program (TPCP) to build capacity at the local level to accomplish its goals:
- Reduce youth initiation and prevent youth access to tobacco
- Eliminate non-smoker exposure to secondhand smoke
- Promote cessation and resources for those who use tobacco and want to quit
- Identify and eliminate disparities related to tobacco use
The Coalition expanded in 2008 after receiving a federal Drug-Free Communities (DFC) grant from the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to address youth tobacco use, underage alcohol use and drug abuse. This grant provides funding for an additional staff person to increase work at the local level to accomplish the DFC goals:
- Strengthen collaboration among communities, private nonprofit agencies, and Federal, State and local governments to prevent and reduce substance abuse among youth.
- Reduce substance abuse among youth, and over time, among adults by promoting the factors that minimize the risk of substance abuse.
The name "re:TH!NK" was developed and selected for our organization by community youth and coalition members in late 2009. As the work of the coalition expanded, we truly became Winnebago's Healthy Living Parntership.
part of a multi-jurisdictional coalition
In 2010, the WCHD partnered with the Northeast Wisconsin Area Health Education Center (NEWAHEC) to implement tobacco prevention and control strategies and activities in Winnebago, Manitowoc, Sheboygan, Kewaunee, and Door County. This "multi-jurisdictional coalition" (MJC), known as re:TH!NK, the Lakeshore Tobacco Prevention Network, is instrumental in continuing to deliver outreach and advocacy activities to all 5 counties. NEWAHEC employs one coordinator to assist with coalition activities related to tobacco prevention and control in the four "lakeshore" counties.
community health improvement planning process
Also in 2010, the WCHD, along with the Oshkosh Health Services Division gathered over 30 community members to discuss and create a Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) to help address the health needs of the residents of the City of Oshkosh and the County of Winnebago. This CHIP is now being implemented by four of re:TH!NK's committees to accomplish its community goals:
- Promote a healthy lifestyle throughout the lifespan
- All residents are physically active, and seek to participate in exercise a minimum of 150 minutes per week
- Reverse the trend of increasing obesity
- Provide healthy recreational opportunities
In 2012, re:TH!NK was awarded a Community Transformation Grant from the Transform WI project. To safeguard Wisconsin's quality of life, Transform WI is investing in 30 communities where people are organizing to make healthy choices easier. This initiative leverages existing momentum and will sparks new, creative efforts to shape community institutions, make public and private systems more responsive to users, and change state and local policies to make it easier for all Winnebago County residents to:
- Eat Healthy Foods
- Be Physically Active
- Live a Tobacco-Free Lifestyle