COMM U N I T Y
BY: LINDSAY CUOMO
Cleveland County finalizes plans, begins construction on a health and wellness complex
n 2017, county leadership envisioned a plan to strengthen Cleveland County through community access focused on the physical wellbeing of its residents. At the center of this lofty goal is the development of a complex called The Well, a partnership between the county and the Cleveland County Health Department. “Our vision for The Well and the reason we included it in the master plan is to make the residents of Cleveland County the healthiest and happiest they can be,” County Commissioner Darry Stacy said. Breaking ground in the heart of downtown Norman, construction is set to begin on the complex that will feature a two-story community building and a walkable outdoor space. The goal is to create an all-in-one destination where residents can take part in classes, wellness activities and community events as well as a place to access important resources. Stacy said The Well is a new concept to Oklahoma, a conglomeration of the
22 | June 2020
best practices surveyed from across the country. “When the community approved the plan for The Well, we travelled the country looking at places that are successful at bringing together health resources, community classes and events that everyone wants to be a part of,” Melody Bays, the executive director of The Well, said. “We are creating a healthy destination for our residents but also for our visitors.” “We are excited to be the first to do this,” Stacy added. Bays said that health and wellness initiatives of this magnitude are another unique feature. “Working in public health it’s usually a grassroots effort but to have this support from the top level is incredible,” Bays said. “We met with community leaders to see what they would want and need and how to address barriers in the community,” Tara Douglas, the director of community engagement for The Well, said. “The sky is the limit and
we have really great partners who are brainstorming ideas. We have about 40 partners that have agreed to provide free or low-cost programming.” With support from community organizations like Norman Regional Health Systems, Pioneer Library System and Moore Norman Technology Center, Stacy said the complex’s design allows for many functions. “There will be parking and walkable green space as well as multi-use classrooms and meeting spaces,” Stacy explained. People will also be able to visit The Well virtually, accessing events and classes through the website, an option that was already planned but whose importance has been highlighted by the current health crisis. “During the COVID-19 outbreak, we’ve learned a lot about the different ways people need to access information and connect with their community. We’re confident we’ve brought the best ideas and technology to benefit the health of our residents and visitors,” Bays said.