Coming together for the good of the community is the whole purpose behind the Braidwood Area Healthy Community Coalition (BAHCC). And after nearly four years of ups and downs, building and reaching out, the coalition is ready to host their inaugural celebration event. It's one that members hope will open up their membership, while recognizing all their work for the city of Braidwood thus far.
Members of the BAHCC met on Monday, Feb. 13 to discuss plans for the Celebration. The event is slated for Thursday, April 19, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Fossil Ridge Public Library. The event will feature raffles, demonstrations, a jump house and refreshments, as well as information for parents and community members on how to create a better Braidwood.
"We're celebrating all of the things that we've done in the past two years, and promoting the organization even further," said Reed-Custer High School principal Tim Ricketts, a member of the coalition. Ricketts said that the coalition's humble beginnings has led to great things in Braidwood. The coalition has worked over the past four years with the school district on the establishment of the Safe Homes directory, a list of families who have signed a pledge to make sure their homes are safe for other children.
The coalition has also taken a role in preparing for post-prom activities at the high school. Ricketts said the coalition has evolved from just a few people meeting monthly into a real resource for the community."I think it's really come a long way," Ricketts said.
Other members agreed, saying that the Celebration was a way to reach out to the community and grab the attention of others.
"To promote and unite the Braidwood community," said coalition member Pete Dell'Aquilla. "We want to have a safer community, a more united community."
With more than a dozen members in attendance this month, the coalition has grown quite a bit. What was once just a meeting of the minds, the group has organized and provided resources for the community far outside just the school district.
"We haven't just grown in people, but we've grown in organization participation," said member Sandy Fletcher. "We started out with the high school, now we have high school, middle and intermediate. We've got police and sheriff's department, city, fire department, who are all involved, who are part of this. We've got the library. Community organizations who are now aware, who are participating. Two years ago I didn't know what some of these things were as a newcomer to this community."
Fletcher noted that the coalition has also worked with neighborhood watch groups in Custer Park and Shadow Lakes.
"Things are connecting and communication is a little bit better than it was before," Fletcher said. "It is an outreach that's happening."
Demonstrations at the April Celebration will include a demonstration from Braidwood's new police dog, Neutron. The event will also feature a SIDNE demonstration. SIDNE stands for Simulated Impaired DriviNg Experience, and allows people drive go-kart type cars, where the steering and braking are delayed to simulate an altered response like what would happen when a person is driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Another hands-on demonstration planned for the event is 'Fatal Reaction,' which works like a computer game. The demonstration works by having people wear special goggles that will distract them while they try to perform tasks, to simulate things like distracted driving.
The Celebration is free and open to the public, and everyone is encouraged to attend.
The BAHCC formed in 2008 with the intent of helping to create an environment free of alcohol and drug abuse for the youth of Braidwood. Currently, the coalition is meeting with local leaders from the city, emergency services, social services, churches, businesses and other civic organizations in an effort to diagnose Braidwood's toughest problems and come up with some solutions. The members meet once a month at the Fossil Ridge Public Library.
More information on the BAHCC can be found in the special Braidwood Trends edition of this newspaper.