Ho-Chunk Elders experienced the first Elder Summit

By Ardith Van Riper

     The first Elder Summit was held August 26 and 27 at Ho-Chunk Gaming – Wisconsin Dells with 264 in attendance.  The conference was open to Ho-Chunk Elders age 60 plus.

     The Behavioral Health Integration Grant funded the event.

     The Wisconsin Dells Singers and a dance troop opened the gathering on Monday evening.  A film screening of Dodging Bullets followed.

     Tuesday started with registration and a hot breakfast buffet.  The Bearheart Drum Group and Sanford White Eagle Post #556 were present to post the colors.  Lance Tallmadge emceed for the day’s activities.

     Elders had the choice of attending one of the following for the first breakout session: Holistic and Herbal Medicine, Elder Abuse, Vivitrol Program, and Fun with Chair Fitness.  The second breakout session included: Kinship and Genealogy, Diabetes, Estate Recovery/Will and Probate, and Chair Yoga.

     Lunch was provided and Martin Littlewolf, Jr. offered a word of prayer for the meal.

     A third breakout session followed lunch and included: Dementia and Alzheimer’s, Reverse Mortgage, Nutrition Bingo, and Tai Chi.  The last breakout session included: Healthy Aging, Language Preservation, Housing Presentation, and Chair Yoga.

     A Community Health Fair took place on the 2nd floor in the Upper Dells Ballroom for most of Tuesday.  Various informational booths and services were offered that involved: blood pressure checks, vision screenings, mental wellness checks, HIV testing, blood sugar checks, holistic health, foot care, nutrition services, Housing, Alzheimer’s services, dental, Ho-Chunk Elder Division, Language Division, safe sleep, drug education, and purchased/referred care.

     Outside the Lower Ballroom was a draped partition and a chair massage was offered.  Also, various booths from local and tribal programs were located outside the Lower Ballroom.
The Elder Summit closed with announcements, raffle drawings, and retreat of the colors.

     Evaluation cards indicated most Elders suggest a full two-day summit and breakout sessions be offered multiple times.  Elders also commented that they would like an annual Elder Summit.