Homebound students are being told to ‘exercise their brains’.

Seniors, for decades, have been told their heart is a muscle and it needs exercise.

We are supposed to exercise our rights.

If someone just says exercise, most of us think about the kind of exercise happening on trails and sidewalks all over our 5 Healthy Towns. Physical movement.

And now, the people in our 5 Healthy Towns have done an amazing job of exercising their civic muscle.

In 2010, 2015 and again in 2020 residents in our communities were asked to participate in surveys. The purpose of the surveys is to guide decisions about how to make our community healthier in mind and body.

In 2010 and 2015 the surveys were done by phone. Everyone involved worried that, because of challenges presented by cell phones, we wouldn’t be able to reach enough people to meet our goals. We were right to worry. We didn’t meet our goals for the number of respondents in any of the five communities in 2015.

In 2020 5 Healthy Towns Foundation decided to try a different approach. We hired a local company, Second to None, and asked them to conduct an electronic survey. We designed questions to tell us only what we need to know, reducing the total number of questions from 200 to 20 – saving survey-takers valuable time.

Once the survey was designed, we asked everyone we know to push out the link to the survey. We had an amazing response! Amazing!

In Chelsea we had a 165% percent improvement in responses from 2015 to 2020.

In Dexter the percent improvement was also 165.

Grass Lake had a 144% improvement over 2015.

Manchester’s improvement was 134%.

And Stockbridge stole the percentage of improvement show with a whopping 193% improvement in responses between 2015 and 2020.

In order of total number of responses, Chelsea finished in first place. Manchester finished in second place with Dexter close behind. Grass Lake and Stockbridge followed, in that order. Special mention to Manchester. They are our smallest community and finished with the second highest number of responses by the day the survey was scheduled to end.

For now, the total number of surveys completed is the most significant thing we know. Soon we’ll start telling you other important things we will learn about the way we live. I suspect there will be some surprises – let’s hope they are all good.

We promised one randomly drawn winner in each community. We asked the people at Second to None to select the winners, electronically, so there would be no influence by those of us who know the communities, well. Winners will each select a gift worth $200, with a wellness focus. Those winners are:

­­­Andrea Tompkins – Grass Lake

Sue Phare – Manchester

Wesley Starr – Stockbridge

The Dexter and Chelsea winners have asked to remain anonymous. 

Congratulations to these winners and to everyone in the community who will benefit from our ability to focus future spending on areas of greatest need.

We truly thank all the ~2600 people who exercised their civic muscle.