Eau Claire’s Wintermission team members provided an update on what Eau Claire residents believe to be the best and worst of winter to city and community collaborators July 16, and highlighted ways this data could influence plans for potential interventions this coming winter. This update marked the end of the team’s engagement phase, which connected with more than 1,000 area residents, and the beginning of planning pilot programs to deploy this winter.
“The Wintermission Eau Claire team was very pleased we could hear from so many area residents in our engagement phase,” said Aaron White, Eau Claire Wintermission team lead and City of Eau Claire economic development director. “This data and feedback will allow us to pilot new programs that can make winter in the Chippewa Valley more accessible and enjoyable for more people.”
The group’s online survey garnered 471 responses, mostly from City of Eau Claire and Eau Claire county residents, from a diversity of perspectives. Fifty five-percent described winter in Eau Claire as “harsh, cold, and long,” while only 23% viewed it as “beautiful, lovely, and amazing.” In addition to the survey, Wintermission team members facilitated several focus groups and dozens of pop-up engagements to garner feedback. Participants identified better snow management tactics and more affordable activities/opportunities for outdoor activities as the top ways winter in Eau Claire could be improved.
“This past winter was extreme and threw into sharp relief some areas where Eau Claire excels in winter, and others where we could be doing better,” said Jake Wrasse, Eau Claire Wintermission spokesperson and UW-Eau Claire government and community relations specialist. “Thankfully, we’ve collected excellent local feedback and looked globally for similar cities that have improved their winter accessibility. Tackling these issues using data-informed interventions puts the Chippewa Valley on track to move the social determinants of health by making it easier for our residents to stay active, connected, and positive year-round.”
Decreasing social isolation and increasing outdoor physical activity in winter are shown to reduce risks for chronic diseases, including diabetes, obesity, and mental health issues. Twenty-percent of the city’s population reports more than seven days of poor mental health in winter, and 30% have hypertension or chronic cardiovascular illnesses. Only 13% of Eau Claire’s outdoor activities take place during winter months, and nearly two-thirds of those surveyed reported feeling isolated or falling out of touch with family and friends during winter to some degree.
Next, the Eau Claire Wintermission team will work collaboratively with local governments to identify projects to implement during the 2019-20 winter.
For more information, contact Jake Wrasse from Wintermission Eau Claire at 715-836-5613 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or David Simor from 8 80 Cities at 416-418-4995 or email@example.com.