monthly Post stories

Andrea Ledger

Pictured: Queenie Tran (Left) and Andrea Ledger (Right) after running the Medtronic Twin Cities 10k.

Andrea Ledger

Deputy Director of Procurement
Department of Human Rights and Equal Economic Opportunity

Tell us about the pillar of wellbeing you are thriving in and what you are doing:

Thanks to Healthy Saint Paul, I’ve prioritized getting active as a tool to maximize my energy. I love to run and have enjoyed participating in Run Saint Paul, but I recently sprained my ankle after slipping on some ice. Healthy Saint Paul has helped me to expand my exercise horizons by thinking about smaller ways to incorporate movement and exercise into my day, like walking the skyway at lunch or doing some simple exercises at my desk.

How has the Healthy Saint Paul program improved your quality of life, work-life balance, or job satisfaction?

The HSP program has been a great way to meet new people, especially through Run Saint Paul. I highly recommend it for runners of all skill levels. It’s been great to find a new running buddy in my colleague, Queenie Tran.

What do you aspire to improve in your wellbeing over the next year?

Over the past year, my diet has suffered. I have a terrible sweet tooth. This year, I’m going to focus on making healthier choices to satisfy it (like going for a piece of fruit instead of chocolate). I don’t want to deprive myself, but focus on moderation and mindfulness when I’m eating.

What have you done to improve your wellbeing in the last year?

I decided to address a longstanding shoulder injury by committing to physical therapy. I’m amazed by how much better I feel and how I’m able to do more things now. I’ve also incorporated yoga into my exercise routine as a way not just to focus on my mobility and strength, but also to focus on mindfulness. I find that doing even a few poses before bed really improves my sleep.

Thank you for sharing Andrea!

monthly Post stories

Luisana S. Mendez Escalante

Luisana S. Mendez Escalante

City of Saint Paul Public Works – Traffic Engineering Division

Tell us about the pillar of wellbeing you are thriving in and what you are doing?

  • My pillars are physical and emotional health.  Anxiety formed as a consequence of COVID 19. I discovered that when I walked outside, my anxiety decreased, so I incorporated outdoor activities to keep myself physically and emotionally healthy, mainly hiking.
  • During 2022, I have had the opportunity to share this activity with my friends, family, and members of the Latino community in MN. I have completed challenges and I created my own Hiking Club as a space to walk and promote physical and emotional health. So far, I have done 58 hikes and have covered about 216.3 miles. I also train at the gym at least 4 times a week.

What do you aspire to improve in your wellbeing over the next year?

  • I want to build up my cardiovascular health and continue hiking more miles than this year.

How has the Healthy Saint Paul program improved your quality of life, worklife balance, or job satisfaction?

  • The program offers information and tools that have motivated me to follow my healthy habits more consciously.
in the spotlight monthly Post

Summer Survival

Summer Survival

Summer can be cold, hot, buggy, stormy, AND a lot of fun! It’s a good idea to be prepared for most situations and create a summer survival kit for your vehicle to protect yourself and your family. Whether it’s a cross-country vacation or a day at the beach, have items handy for your personal needs wherever you travel. These ideas are just a few to get your summer survival kit started


  • Plan ahead for vehicle service for brakes,fluids, belts, hoses, and oil.
  • Check tire condition and pressure. Have a tire pressure gauge, a working spare tire,and a jack.
  • Keep a car emergency kit that includes a flashlight, fresh batteries, first-aid supplies, drinking water, non-perishable snacks, car battery jumper cables, emergency flares or reflectors, rain poncho, basic tool kit, duct tape, gloves,and rags or paper towels.
  • Don’t rely on GPS alone. Have a map or print out the destination directions in case cellular coverage is spotty.
  • Stay gassed up. Always fill up —even if you have half a tank.
  • Consider purchasing a roadside assistance membership.


  • Medications for pain, nausea, and easing itching discomfort.
  • Snacks that can handle the heat.
    Chargers for all electronics. Include as solar-powered charger.
  • Sunscreen, sunglasses, and hats.
  • Bug spray and repellent.
  • Umbrella for rain or shade.
  • Soft-sided insulated bag to hold frozen or refrigerated items, or for anything you want to keep from getting too hot.
  • Large beach bag or clothes basket to store and carry all of your summer survival kit items in your car.


  • Water bottles for everyone that can easily be refilled.
  • Folding camp chairs for outdoor events or gatherings.
  • A beach towel or blanket for cooler days,sitting on the beach or grass, or covering your car seats when you have a wet dog or kids.
  • Tissues – especially if you have allergies.
  • Wet wipes to clean up dirty fingers and messes.
  • Hand sanitizer. The pumps fit nicely in each door pocket or cup holders.
  • Reuse grocery bags or add a small garbage bin to your back seat for collecting trash in your car.

45% of Americans take a summer vacation. They average 568 roundtrip miles. 657 million trips are taken between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day weekend.


in the spotlight monthly Post

Brain Health

Brain Health

Alzheimer’s  Disease & Dementia

According to the Mayo Clinic, Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neurological disorder that causes brain cells to die and the brain to shrink. This disease is the most common cause of dementia, a brain disease which also causes mental, behavioral, and social decline.

In the United States, nearly 6.2 million people age 65 and older live with Alzheimer’s disease and 2/3 of those diagnosed are women.

Many people experience symptoms much earlier in life and their brain figures out a way to compromise and be fully functional despite the new  challenges that arise. This  compensation often leads to a late diagnosis and irreversible brain damage. Therefore,
recognizing early signs is very important for preventing or delaying dementia caused by Alzheimer’s.

Early Signs

  • Forgetting recent conversations or events
  • Repeating statements and
    questions multiple times
  • Routinely misplacing items in odd locations
  • Having trouble finding the right words to identify objects or express thoughts


More research is needed to confirm strategies to prevent or delay dementia caused by Alzheimer’s, but living a life that
promotes good overall health is a great place to start.

  • Regular physical activity
  • A healthy diet
  • Controlling blood pressure
  • Keeping your brain active and sharp


Playing brain games can be an engaging
way for anyone — especially those who
are aging — to improve memory, mental
health, attention span, and reduce the risk
of Alzheimer’s. Check out the following links
for a variety of FREE online brain games!

Alzheimer’s is not just memory loss. Deaths from Alzheimer’s have more than doubled between 2000 and 2019, while those from heart disease — the leading cause of death — have decreased.

Source: Alzheimer’s Association

in the spotlight monthly Post

May is Mental Well-being Month

In the 2019 National Health Survey, 4.7% of adults aged 18 and over reported regular feelings of depression. In 2020 that grew to 6% or 14.8 million!

Suicide and Depression

We have all had days where we feel down. A failed project at work or an argument with a
friend can cause you to feel blue. But when you feel down or low for multiple days or weeks, you may be experiencing depression.

Clinical depression is defined as feeling down for an extended amount of time. Lack of sleep, difficulty concentrating, hopelessness about the future, or even thoughts of suicide are common symptoms of clinical depression. Untreated depression or mental illness is a major cause of suicide. An important way to take part in suicide prevention is to understand the issues that concern those in crisis and to help change the conversation around suicide and mental health.

Spot the Warning Signs

People who are contemplating suicide can show many signs,
but here are some of the common ones to look for.

  • Talking about wanting to die and/or talking about death often
  •  Starting a will and getting their affairs in order
  •  Withdrawing from social contact and wanting to be left alone
  •  Increased use of alcohol or drugs

Take Action

Five action steps for communicating with a friend or family member who may be contemplating self-harm:

  1.  Start a non-judgmental conversation. Ask “Are you thinking about suicide?”
  2.  Keep them safe from lethal items or places.
  3.  Be there, listen to them carefully, and acknowledge their feelings.
  4.  Help them connect with resources and professionals.

    • Make It OK provides support in dealing with stigma of mental health at

    • The NIMH Helpline can be reached Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. ET, at 1-866-615-6464 or by email at

    • Right Direction crisis hotline provides free information, tools, and resources to help raises awareness about depression in the workplace and demystify the symptoms and treatment options at or call 800-273-8255.

    The Trevor Project supports LGBTQ+ at and 866-488-7386.

    • The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL) is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24/7 in the United States. Go to or call 1-800-273-8255.

    Beginning July 16, 2022, 988 has been designated as the new three-digit dialing code that will route callers to the NSPL

  5. Stay connected with them and follow up often.
in the spotlight monthly Post

Why Exercising Is a Higher Priority Than My Career

FEB 15, 2017 1:25 PM EST Time Magazine

Below are excerpts from an article written by entrepreneur Joshua Steimle. While he speaks as a business owner, this can apply to anyone who finds exercise losing out on importance when life gets busy. It is a good reminder that your health has to come first and regular exercise is necessary component for good health.

“On any given day there are easily 100 important things I should be doing for my business, 50 of which are also urgent, but there is no way I can get more than 10 things done. Exercise must come first, or it’s unlikely to happen at all; as soon as I start pushing workouts off, I’ll start missing workouts, and once I start missing workouts, I’m close to stopping workouts altogether.

If exercise stops, then my health goes downhill. With the loss of physical health my productivity at work goes down. I become depressed. I lose motivation to do the things that makes my business successful. I’ve learned firsthand that excellence in one area of my life promotes excellence in all other areas of my life. Exercise is the easiest area of my life to control. It’s easy to measure. Either I get it in, or I don’t. When I do, it lifts up all other areas of my life, including my business.

For a long time, I was fooled into thinking that if my business wasn’t the top priority, then that meant I wasn’t doing all I could do to make it successful. This is an understandable way of thinking, but it’s completely wrong. The trick is to figure out which ordering of priorities provides the maximum overall benefit. For example, when I exercise, that makes me better in every role I have, whether it’s as a husband, father, friend or entrepreneur. If I were to stop exercising because I felt that being a good business owner was a higher priority, then ironically I would end up a worse business owner than I was when it when it was a lower priority. Putting exercise first creates a win-win.”

Makes sense, but how do you start? Go to “6 Ways to Make Exercise a Priority” for ideas to get you started.

monthly Post stories

Rachel Handren

Rachel Handren began working for the Parks and Rec Center daycare program about six years ago. As a child, Rachel’s family moved around a lot. As a result, she made friends with children from many different cultures. Her childhood also included being involved with dance. She began lessons in fourth grade, participating in dance competitions and public performances. Rachel’s Northwest Como Rec supervisor, aware of her dance background and her ability to connect with children from many different cultures decided she would be the perfect person to develop and direct a dance program for children at this center.

Rachel began with creative movement classes for children aged 3-5; for elementary aged children she created jazz, ballet and hip hop classes. Classes were held once per week from September through May. As the program grew in popularity, Rachel expanded with more classes. During the summer when classes aren’t typically held, she began holding dance workshops to keep the momentum going. Last year, she added a dance competition league. This league competes in local competitions against private dance studios. Their competitors come from studios that are designed for dance with mirrored walls, ballet bars, etc. as opposed to the Rec Center gym used in Rachel’s classes. To help cover the cost of competition entrance fees, they have a fund raising booster club, set up snack tables, etc. They plan to have a fund raising chair for next season. There are 90+ students now involved in Rec dance classes and the competition league.

Besides teaching children to dance, Rachel’s goal is helping them become more fit. The competition league dancers took a baseline fitness test at the beginning of the year and then set their goals. Each class spent 15-20 minutes on strength, conditioning and flexibility exercises. They were required to practice routines and exercise outside of class as “practice makes progress”. By the end of the first year, every single dancer beat their own personal goal while also growing in the intricate skills it takes to be a competition dancer. The valuable skill of working as part of a team was also learned.

Rachel says she is so incredibly proud of how hard her students work especially on their own personal fitness goals and how they encourage each other to do better. She has dreams of having a real, dedicated space for the dancers in the future. We recognize Rachel for sharing her enthusiasm in bringing the joy of movement and fitness to so many kids, making a difference in their lives.