McLean County news briefs

The Bloomington YWCA Young Wonders early childhood program has received the Gold Circle of Quality designation from ExceleRate Illinois. (Photo courtesy of Bloomington YWCA)


 YWCA early childhood program gets top honors

YWCA Young Wonders received the Gold Circle of Quality designation from ExceleRate Illinois, the state’s quality recognition and improvement system for early learning and development providers. Their first designation was achieved in 2018.

“We are proud to maintain our rating of Gold Circle of Quality,” said Melissa Breeden, senior director, YWCA Young Wonders. “We strive to provide quality in early education and appreciate being recognized by the state.”

The ExceleRate designation is for three years and YWCA Young Wonders will submit yearly reports to maintain their status.

Achieving this designation demonstrates YWCA Young Wonders commitment to providing quality care to Illinois’ children. ExceleRate Illinois unifies all our state’s early learning programs under a common set of standards and supports programs that integrate and sustain best practices.

ExceleRate Illinois is administered through INCCRRA under the joint direction of the Governor’s Office of Early Childhood Development, the Illinois Department of Human Services and the Illinois State Board of Education.

YWCA Young Wonders provides part-time and full-time early learning to children from six weeks to 5 years old. The year-round early learning center designs activities to nurture the children’s intellectual, social, and emotional development.

All programs are licensed by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) and accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). All ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds are welcome. To learn more about their program, please visit

‘Walking with My Ancestors’ part of BCPA season

As a sneak peek to the upcoming season is scheduled for Aug. 15, at the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts.

The season will include Coalescence Theatre Project’s production of “Walking with My Ancestors: Cape Coast Castle”, by Ama Oforiwaa Aduonum, featuring Aduonum. “Walking with my Ancestors” is the second in a trilogy of work by Aduonum, and has been garnering awards for the past six months, including being chosen as one of the top four productions at The AACTFest National Festival.

For her role in this play Aduonum has also been recognized with the Outstanding Actor in a Lead Role award at AACTFest at the State, Regional and National competitions.

Aduonum reaches out to her ancestors who began their journey to the Americas as enslaved Africans in Ghana. Seeking guidance from the spirits of her ancestors to come to terms with her life in America and her roots in Ghana, she takes a ritual journey with the dead and discovers help, truth and peace while sharing in the depths of their pain and the exhilaration of their celebration in her communion with the dead.

“Walking with My Ancestors: Cape Coast Castle” includes music and dance as it presents a story of revelation, reconciliation and renewal.

The play is part of the September lineup at the BCPA, and will be presented on Saturday, Sept. 21 with shows at 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students with a valid Student ID. Tickets for both are available online at or call the BCPA Ticket Office at 309-434-2777.


Gallery opens exhibit of abstract works

An abstract painting exhibit featuring the works of six artists will be on display at Heartland Community College beginning Monday, Aug. 12.

The Joe McCauley Gallery presents Abstraction: Paintings by Jan Brandt, Allison Carr, Joann Goetzinger, Megan Hinds, Megan Kathol Bersett and Melanie Dockery through Nov. 8.

An artist’s reception will be held during National Arts and Humanities Month on Oct. 7 from 4 to 5:30 p.m. at the Gallery.

Each of the featured artists approach abstraction from personal and formal considerations, and use acrylic paint as a primary medium. Abstraction offers viewers a wide range of content, style and painting techniques:

  • Brandt builds biomorphic forms with encrusted, textural surfaces.
  • Carr develops organic imagery by layering transparent and opaque mixed media.
  • Dockery employs gestural, expressive brushwork on large scale canvas.
  • Goetzinger constructs with cut-out, wood reliefs and linear patterning.
  • Hinds saturates and manipulates floods of vibrant color on canvas.

Exhibits, events, and parking at Heartland’s Joe McCauley Gallery are free. The gallery is in room 2507 of the Instructional Commons Building on Heartland’s Normal campus, 1500 W. Raab Road. Hours are weekdays from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on days the College is open.

For more information about this exhibit, contact Danell Dvorak, gallery coordinator, at, or call Heartland’s Liberal Arts and Social Sciences Department at 309-268-8620.


Council releases community health report

The McLean County Community Health Council has released its findings for the top three health needs in McLean County for 2020-22.

Following extensive data collection and analysis over the past two years, the council ascertained the top three health priorities for McLean County and for the required 2019 McLean County Community Health Needs Assessment.

They are as follows:

  •         Access to appropriate care
  •         Behavioral health (including mental health and substance abuse)
  •         Healthy eating/active living

“The priorities for 2019 are essentially the same as those selected in 2016 with the renaming of obesity to healthy eating/active living,” says Sally Gambacorta, community health director at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center and Advocate Eureka Hospital. “The benefit to having the same health priorities is that we have momentum, as well as numerous accomplishments, in each of these areas due to the great collaboration with all of our community partners.”

This fall, work will be underway to develop a community health implementation plan and set specific objectives toward achieving the high-level goals that have been set for each of the three health priorities.

The McLean County Community Health Council is a group of 58 individuals from 39 organizations in the county representing public entities, faith-based and private organizations, social service organizations, health care facilities, and city and regional planning.

The Executive Steering Committee of the McLean County Community Health Council is an innovative collaboration among the McLean County Health Department, Advocate BroMenn Medical Center, OSF HealthCare St. Joseph Medical Center, and Chestnut Health Systems.

By partnering on this project, these health leaders pool their resources to create a unified plan to address the county’s top three health priorities.

This is the second community health needs assessment completed by the council. Its inaugural report was produced in 2016, when the following health priorities emerged: access to appropriate health care, behavioral health and obesity.

To read the full 2019 Community Health Needs Assessment report and/or to make comments, visit any of the participants’ websites:

McLean County Health Department:

Advocate BroMenn Medical Center:

OSF HealthCare St. Joseph Medical Center:

Chestnut Health Systems:


 August Diabetes Clinic: The Mediterranean Diet    

University of Illinois Extension invites you to join them for the August Diabetes Clinic: “Mediterranean Diet” session. This program will be held from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, August 15 at the Woodford County Extension Office (109 E. Eureka Ave., Eureka, IL).

Have you heard about the Mediterranean Diet but are not quite sure what it is all about? Join us as we discuss the health benefits of a Mediterranean diet and how you can adapt it into your eating plan. You will receive a packet of recipes and watch a food demonstration.

Diabetes clinics are informal but informational walk-in programs with a different topic each month designed especially for persons living with diabetes. There is no cost to attend this program and no registration is necessary.

For more information on this program or upcoming events, contact University of Illinois Extension nutrition and wellness educator and registered dietitian, Jenna Smith at 309-663-8306 or email her at