Free teenager mental health program offered

Change to Chill, Allina Health's award-winning mental well-being program, is now offering free training sessions around the region. Change to Chill works as a guide to help teens become more aware of the things that stress them out and equip them with tools and resources to better manage stress and anxiety and live happier, more resilient lives.

"As the Change to Chill program grows we are seeing an influx in requests for Change to Chill trainings to continue to serve our communities," said Susan Nygaard, manager of Allina Health's Community Health Improvement. "To address these requests we are hosting a several training sessions around the region, open to the community and free of charge."

There is no cost to attend a training, but space is limited so registration is requested by visiting and click on the green banner on the top of the home page. All trainings will take place from 9 a.m. to noon. Upcoming classes include:

• Wednesday, March 6 in River Falls

• Friday, March 1 in Cottage Grove

Mental health first aid course in St. Paul

NAMI Minnesota, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, will hold a free Mental Health First Aid training course designed to teach the basic first aid skills needed to help a person who is experiencing a mental health problem or crisis. This course will be held 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, March 2 at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, 700 Snelling Ave S., in St. Paul.

It is not intended for professionals who have a background in mental health. To register (required) or get more detailed information, contact NAMI at 651-645-2948 or see "classes" at

Winter storms, canceled drives put strain on blood supply

The American Red Cross is reissuing its emergency call for blood and platelet donors to give now after multiple snow storms, frigid temperatures and the government shutdown further reduced life-saving donations.

In January, more than 4,600 Red Cross blood and platelet donations went uncollected as blood drives were forced to cancel due to severe winter weather. The federal government shutdown also affected donations as more than 4 percent of Red Cross blood collections come from drives sponsored by military and local, state and federal government agencies. About 30 blood drives hosted by federal offices were canceled across the country due to the shutdown, leaving more than 900 donations uncollected.

"Disruptions to blood and platelet donations jeopardize the availability of blood for patients who depend on transfusions for survival," said Cliff Numark, senior vice president of Red Cross Biomedical Services in a news release. "We're grateful for all those who have come out to give since we issued our emergency call earlier this month and now urge others to come out and give to prevent delays in essential medical care."

All eligible donors, especially platelet donors and blood donors with type O blood, are urgently needed to help restock the shelves for hospital patients. Donation appointments can be made by using the free Blood Donor App, visiting or calling 800-RED CROSS.

Woman recognized for turning trauma into activism

Micah Jeppesen, while still a teen in high school, was the victim of a traumatic and violent dating experience. She escaped, she reported, asked for and received help and healed. She then began working with HOPE Coalition to take her story to other teens so they could avoid her experience. She is being recognized for her community service work by FOX 47 TV in Rochester with their Jefferson Award.

HOPE Coalition and Jeppesen produced a video about how power and control can be abused and control and taken away by another. The video is free to view on HOPE Coalition's Youtube channel, Since the production of the video, she has presented her video and story to students at Red Wing and Cannon Fall schools, local churches and at the Minnesota Office of Justice Programs annual state conference.

HOPE Coalition's Linda Flanders nominated Micah for FOX TV's Jefferson Award because of her willingness to go public with her story and use her experience to help others.

"My goal is to help people recognize the signs of domestic violence," Jeppesen said. "There are a lot more people that go through domestic violence than talked about. It's not something to be ashamed of, it's something to grow and learn from. It's not your fault."

HOPE Coalition provides advocacy services for those experiencing domestic violence, child abuse, sexual assault, homelessness and inability to meet basic needs, serving 1,700-plus people a year in Goodhue, Wabasha and Pierce counties.