New Initiative Leads the Charge on City Wellness

A citywide initiative aims to help residents embrace life’s transitions.
Mayor James Hovland, Richard Leider, and Lori Syverson with Emilio Pardo and Will Phillips of AARP and Life Reimagined sponsors Waddell & Reed.

Lori Syverson is a perfect champion for the new Life Reimagined program in Edina. She once lived in Wisconsin, a divorced 46-year-old with a good job. But when her youngest son left for college, Syverson wanted something more from life. People told her she was having a midlife crisis, or that people her age don’t just get up and start over. But Syverson ignored the critics, moved to Edina, and eventually became the president of the Edina Chamber of Commerce.

Now, Syverson leads the charge for Life Reimagined, a program aimed at helping Edina residents going through life transitions. If that sounds broad, it’s because the program is broad. It’s aimed at everyone.

Originally partnered with the AARP and based on a book by Edina resident Richard Leider, Life Reimagined started as a way for baby boomers to transition into retirement. Syverson and Edina mayor James Hovland learned of the program, and Syverson began to advocate for a pilot program in Edina that branched out from baby boomers to people of all life stages. Edina’s Life Reimagined program launched on October 1, with more than 230 people in attendance, and this is the first time it’s been tested with an entire community.

Life Reimagined focuses on four major life areas: career, relationships, wellness and finances. The general idea is that people struggling to find the right job fit, going through a divorce, fighting a disease, experiencing money troubles or going through other challenges or transitions can turn to the program for assistance.

Built around a six-step concept, Life Reimagined helps people overcome obstacles. “What it really does is provide a road map or a process to help people think through their lives and reflect, and give them a guide to get to the end,” Syverson says.

The six steps are reflect, connect, explore, choose, repack and act. They encourage people to start by looking at their own lives and figuring out what might need to change. Program leaders then connect participants with those who can help them on their journey. People make changes in their own lives and carry those changes through to conclusion. On the program’s website,, several participants will share information about their progress as they make changes in the four major life areas.

Fairview Southdale is a major partner for the program, and Cathy Utne, director of patient and guest services at Fairview, says the program could have huge benefits to the health of the community.

“We focus on exploring the impact that life has on human beings, and as a result of that, Life Reimagined is a natural foundation,” Utne says. “Anyone, at any age, going through transition usually feels some sort of emotional impact.”

That impact causes stress, which takes a toll on health. Utne’s hope is that this program will help people better deal with stress, and in turn help create a healthier Edina.

The program is in its infancy. “The program is a starting point or template,” Utne says. “Through Life Reimagined, we will learn where the greatest needs in the community are.”

Like Utne, Mayor Hovland is interested to see what the program can do for the city. He has high hopes, and is excited about the possibilities of the program. “I get a lot of people who are retired, and call asking how they can help the town,” Hovland says. “They are excited to keep themselves involved, and this may have that component to help residents stay involved.”

Syverson sees the program as a way of uniting the Edina community. Heading into the new year, there will be more ways for Edina residents to get involved and find out how Life Reimagined can help them through challenging transitions.

Syverson sees a bright future for the program. As more people get involved, she envisions Edina as a trend-setter, a model for a citywide wellness program.


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