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Community invited to ConnectEffect, an innovative interactive entertainment experience 

Central Lakes College, in partnership with the Central Lakes Community Performing Arts Center, proudly presents ConnectEffect, an innovative interactive entertainment experience that aims to tackle the prevailing issues of loneliness and social isolation. The event is free, open to the public, and runs January 23-25, 2024, at 6 pm at Central Lakes College. ConnectEffect is hosted by two-time Emmy-nominated television producer Riaz Patel, a visionary leader with a unique approach to breaking down societal barriers. Walk-ins are admitted but due to limited seating participants are encouraged to register in advance. Detailed information and a link for registration are available at www.connecteffectbrainerd.net. 

ConnectEffect is a unique exploration of the “Real World” versus the “Screen World” in a style that merges talk shows with live theatre. Participants, approximately 80 per session, are guided by Patel and his team through group experiences, exercises, and conversations designed to bridge generations, cultures, and beliefs. Through a deeply personal and disarming approach, Patel brings together a diverse audience of total strangers and, within the span of the event, equalizes and humanizes them into one deeply connected group. Described by Forbes as a “game-changer”, the ConnectEffect Experience fosters label-shedding and echo-chamber-breaking conversations, providing an enjoyable and entertaining platform for meaningful dialogue and connection. 

With a background in psychology research and a two-decade career of producing shows in twenty countries and for every major network, Patel has a profound understanding of the impact of media, division, and identity on human connection. Patel received a special commendation from the City of Los Angeles for his work with The Jenesse Center, a domestic-violence prevention organization, and his and perspective-shifting work in entertainment. In an era marked by digital connectivity, Patel and health experts recognize the urgent need for genuine human connections. U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy recently stated, “Our epidemic of loneliness and isolation has been an underappreciated public health crisis that has harmed individual and societal health.” Patel’s approach to generating social connections amongst ConnectEffect participants is rooted in his belief that relationships are a powerful source of healing and well-being and that any two people can be deeply connected if introduced in the right way. 

“We believe in the power of connection to bridge gaps, break down barriers, and foster understanding among individuals from all walks of life. We hope that ConnectEffect will be a catalyst for building a stronger, more connected community amongst both CLC and the Brainerd Lakes Area,” said Joey Yow, Director of the Central Lakes Community Performing Arts Center. 

This impactful event is made possible through the generous support of several organizations committed to community well-being, including the Central Lakes College Office of Equity and Inclusion, the Central Lakes Community Performing Arts Center, the Region Five Development Commission, the Five Wings Arts Council, Essentia Health, Crow Wing Energized, and the Lakes Area Justice Table. 

“By supporting ConnectEffect, these organizations contribute to the broader goals of community health, combatting social isolation, and fostering meaningful connections among residents,” Mary Sam, Dean of Students, Wellness and Equity. 

For more information and to register for the Brainerd ConnectEffect event, visit www.connecteffectbrainerd.net. For more information on the ConnectEffect organization, visit www.connecteffect.us. 


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