It is no secret that, when it comes to public health, Allen County has a lot of work to do. But there’s nothing wrong with taking some time to pat ourselves on the back for the progress we’ve made so far.
Allen County has taken some giant steps in public health in the year since Activate Allen County launched. The program is about halfway through a two-year grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention aimed at improving the health of county residents. By providing evidence-based information and working with schools, businesses and other public and private entities to initiate or improve policies that can help us all live healthier lives, the group is helping to turn back the tide on some serious health issues.
The leadership team and the dozens of volunteers and community leaders who have stepped up to help have launched some vital new programs and, if you will forgive the pun, activated the community toward the common goal of making the healthy choice the easy choice for all the residents of our county.
Here’s just a sample of what’s been done so far:
•In helping reduce tobacco use in Allen County:
Trinity United Methodist Church became the first new partner to establish a tobacco-free campus. Many more businesses and churches are in the process.
Team leaders have spoken to dozens of boards, committees and service clubs about the dangers of tobacco use and ways they can help.
At a November Healthy Housing seminar, landlords and tenants learned how and why multi-unit housing facilities can become smoke-free.
•In helping us all eat healthier:
In September, we unveiled the Mobile Produce Market, a community partnership that will make fresh, affordable produce available to residents county-wide.
We hosted a day-long summit at which county leaders learned about the challenges of promoting healthy food options and heard from national experts about what’s working in their communities.
The Meeting Place on Market became the first local restaurant to gain the Activate Approved distinction. They worked with the Activate nutritionist to develop menu options that make the healthy choice and easy one. Many more restaurants are expected to join them.
Hosted a residency with Celebrity Chef Bryant Terry, who worked with local culinary art students on developing healthy menus.
•In helping promote the advantages of breast-feeding:
Both LACCA and the City of Lima have established Brest Feeding Policies aimed at making life easier for new mothers.
Breast Feeding stations were set up in businesses and public events, including Square Fair 2013.
This fall, Activate hosted a countywide Breastfeeding Coalition meeting, bringing together representatives from all the groups working to promote breastfeeding in Allen County.
•In helping get Allen County resident more physically active:
Signed on a nationally-known consulting firm to help produce the first countywide Active Transportation Plan and launched a survey and hosted multiple focus group meeting to gain community input on the process.
Developed and promoted tools for schools and other groups to help them create policies that promote Active Living.
Convened a countywide Bicycle and Pedestrian Task Force to increase accessibility for bikers and pedestrians.
All that is just a portion of the work that’s been done so far, and there is much, much more to come. To find out more about Activate Allen County, or to see how you can be part of the process, go to www.activateallencounty.com.