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A quick recap of some of the recent strides our region has taken towards becoming a healthier community for all that choose to call Northwest Arkansas home.

A Living Laboratory

The Whole Health Institute

On Jan. 15, Alice Walton announced the launch of the Whole Health Institute and its mission to radically transform how healthcare is delivered in the region and around the state—with the ultimate goal of becoming a national model for health care.

Dr. Tracy Gaudet, the former executive director of the Veterans Health Administration’s National Office of Patient Centered Care and Cultural Transformation, will lead the new institute. The whole health approach is an aspirational and community-driven approach that complements conventional treatments with alternative treatments and preventative activities like cognitive behavioral therapy, acupuncture, massage, yoga, tai chi, chiropractic manipulation, nutrition and other physical and behavioral therapies that fall outside of the traditional health care approaches.

The institute will collaborate with regional hospital systems, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, insurance companies, doctors and other healthcare providers in the region on its efforts to reduce health care costs and inspire healthier lifestyles.

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First Trauma-Informed School in Arkansas

Hope Academy

Late last year, the Arkansas Department of Education approved the application for the Hope Academy of Northwest Arkansas charter school. Hope Academy, the first trauma-informed school in Arkansas, will open its doors on the Northwest Arkansas Children’s Shelter campus this fall. Families in the region with children who have experienced pervasive and consistent trauma (physical or sexual abuse, neglect and abandonment), will now be able to find specialized, small classes taught by trauma-trained teachers who strive to create a safe environment for the children to learn, cope, manage and thrive.

The tuition-free academy will initially open to 40 students in kindergarten through third grade. Applications for enrollment for children throughout Northwest Arkansas will be accepted until Feb. 14 for the 2020/2021 school year.

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First Trauma-Informed School in Arkansas

Hope Academy

Late last year, the Arkansas Department of Education approved the application for the Hope Academy of Northwest Arkansas charter school. Hope Academy, the first trauma-informed school in Arkansas, will open its doors on the Northwest Arkansas Children’s Shelter campus this fall. Families in the region with children who have experienced pervasive and consistent trauma (physical or sexual abuse, neglect and abandonment), will now be able to find specialized, small classes taught by trauma-trained teachers who strive to create a safe environment for the children to learn, cope, manage and thrive.

The tuition-free academy will initially open to 40 students in kindergarten through third grade. Applications for enrollment for children throughout Northwest Arkansas will be accepted until Feb. 14 for the 2020/2021 school year.

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A Healthy Pre-K Campus

Helen R. Walton Children’s Enrichment Center

Did you know that less than 20% of human disease is genetically determined; the rest is triggered by the environment we live in? Or that by age five a child’s brain reaches 90% of its adult capacity? As Architecture Record points out, “nowhere are architects’ efforts to exclude toxin-laden materials from the buildings they design more important than in environments for children.”

In this respect, the Helen R. Walton Children’s Enrichment Center and Early Childhood Initiatives Center in Bentonville stands alone as the first non-toxic, chemical-free early childhood campus in the nation.

In addition to accommodating 240 children between the ages of six weeks and five years—including children living in shelters or experiencing homelessness—the center also works to elevate the quality of early childhood education throughout the region by offering access to training programs, with the goal of raising the certification level of all centers that focus on young children in Northwest Arkansas.

Few, if any, centers have given as much thought or gone to such lengths to provide high quality early education in a healthy environment as the Helen R. Walton Children’s Enrichment Center—a truly remarkable testament to the regions focus on health and well-being.

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Related Reading: Check out the Northwest Arkansas Healthcare: Assessment, Economic Impact and Vision for the Future report for more on how the region will be strengthened by targeted health-sector growth initiatives.
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