To the editor,

I think there’s a lot of confusion over what the Orange Frog/Happiness Advantage workshop is. There are people in the community who don’t exactly know what it is, and I’ve heard very negative and critical comments from people, including some running for county commissioner. I would like to give my perspective as an average citizen who has attended the workshop. Not an elected official, not running for office.

It’s important to understand the background of why this workshop was brought here. Every three years the Isanti County Public Health Department does a survey to see what the top health needs are in the county. Allina hospital system does something similar. In years past it was always things like cancer and smoking at the top of the list, but in the last two surveys it has been social isolation, depression, and substance abuse. 

And this was even before the isolation of COVID-19. In the student surveys they found that less than a third of the students feel that someone in their community cares for them. I have to tell you that breaks my heart! Also suicide rates are on the rise in our county. To me, these are symptoms of a pending mental health crisis in our county.

The current county commissioners began looking at a way to address these issues. I absolutely applaud them for being proactive! For paying attention to these serious issues that affect the citizens of this county. Some may say that this is not the role of our county commissioners, but I would certainly hope that every citizen the county, and especially our county commissioners, would be concerned with the health of the people who live in the county!

In their search for solutions, they found this program that is data driven, used by fortune 500 companies all over the United States, and created by a guy who attended Harvard. This program is highly successful, and you can read on their website about the neuroscience and psychology foundation of the program.

Let’s all agree it’s a silly name. I don’t like the name either, but the guy who created it wanted to make complex information understandable to all ages, so he used a parable. It’s important to focus on the content of what is being taught, not the silly name.

Normally, a program like this would cost a lot of money. Our county commissioners found a way to bring this program to the citizens of Isanti County absolutely free! That’s right, this program was paid for with free federal dollars and did not cost us a dime. Every one of us can attend this workshop and reap the benefits for free! 

I certainly hope those who have been criticizing the workshop have actually attended it. There is such good information in there to help people with their mental health and well being. I am honestly puzzled how anybody could be against this! We have to find a way to address these very serious mental health issues in our county, and I think this workshop is a wonderful start.

In closing I’d like to say, remember that our Founding Fathers wrote about the “pursuit of happiness” in the Declaration of Independence. Even way back then they understood that a human being needs to have a feeling of happiness and sense of well-being to be healthy. 

Carol Ann Smith

Cambridge

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