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Free community meal, performance coming

Amy Louhela calls it “growing the good.”

“Instead of focusing on the bad things, you focus on the good things the community already has,” Louhela said.

She is the coordinator of a five-year, $920,000 grant awarded in 2021 by the MN Department of Human Services specifically targeted at measures to reduce youth drug and alcohol use through positive community norms.

“It’s about getting to know people and your community, finding the strength in your community and growing those strengths,” Louhela said, describing how they’ve been working with youth leaders to identify what’s great about the Cloquet and Carlton school districts, the two areas covered by the grant.

“The kids are like, ‘the parks are amazing and the teachers are amazing. And people are close here. We’re like family.’ I have a whole wall in my office full of Post-its with messages like that,” she said.

Now the PCN grant coordinator wants to broaden the message and reach even more people.

And what better way to do that than breaking bread together, and then watching a performance that people say is life-changing?

That’s the plan behind the free community meal and Lion Heart Experience set for 5-7 p.m. Tuesday, May 9 at Carlton High School. Funded through the PCN grant, Louhela hopes Carlton County residents of all ages will come for the free meal and stay for a performance that involves music and messaging about identity, self worth and purpose.

Led by Joe Vercellino, educator and speaker, Lion Heart promises “an action-packed, funny and creative experience that will leave [people] empowered and challenged.”

Louhela asks that people RSVP so they have a better idea of how much food to have ready. Just go to eventbrite.com and search for “the lion heart experience” and register with your name and email. No internet? Call 218-590-6761 and leave your name and number of guests.

“It’s an amazing show, and free to everyone,” Louhela said. “We hope to see you there.”

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