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TMCNet:  Colorado's Municipal Leaders and Planners Gather to Strategize on Providing Access to Healthy Food and Recreation

[December 05, 2013]

Colorado's Municipal Leaders and Planners Gather to Strategize on Providing Access to Healthy Food and Recreation

DENVER --(Business Wire)--

More than 100 elected officials, city planners and health officials from across the state participated in the recent LiveWell Colorado HEAL Cities & Towns Campaign summit in Westminster, Colo., to discuss the role of municipalities in improving access to healthy foods, enabling active lifestyles and encouraging workplace wellness.

Seventeen cities and towns across Colorado are currently participating in the HEAL Cities & Towns Campaign of Colorado, a partnership effort of LiveWell Colorado and the Colorado Municipal League. As part of the program, LiveWell Colorado provides free training, support and technical policy assistance to community leaders as they work toward implementing healthy eating and active living policies - known as "HEAL" policies.

"Over the past several decades, a focus on convenience has resulted in substantial barriers that city leaders must now overcome in order to provide healthy, active opportunities to their citizens," said Julie George, director of the HEAL Cities & Towns Campaign for LiveWell Colorado. "Seeing the collaboration among the different municipal leaders was truly inspiring, and I have no doubt that these communities will benefit from the lessons we all learned during this event."

Guest speakers from outside Colorado also shared their experiences in promoting HEAL policies in their own cities and states. Chip Johnson, mayor of Hernando, Miss., ran for election based on a parks and recreation platform in a city that had no parks department. He shared his experience and the lessons he learned in focusing on building a healthy community. The city of Hernando is now recognized s the "Healthiest Hometown" by the Blue Cross & Blue Shield Foundation of Mississippi, and has seen significant growth as a result.


Charlotte Dickson, M.S.W., director of the National HEAL Cities Campaign also spoke about the results achieved in the current campaign in her home state of California. She pointed out that, of the five states participating in the HEAL National Campaign, Colorado's participation has grown the most quickly.

Additional topics of discussion included:

Building environments to promote active lifestyles: Walking communities and mixed-use buildings encourage active commuting, more repeat business and spending, and generate significantly more tax revenue than single-use buildings; open space preservation that costs less to maintain and has the same impact on real estate values as a golf course.

Expanding access to healthy food: Focus on bringing healthy grocery options to low-income areas; review zoning and land-use codes to allow for more local farming and community gardens; host farmers markets to provide access to healthy, local food.

Promoting worksite wellness: Create municipality programs so city officials lead by example; remove unhealthy snacks and beverages as a quick, low-cost way to make a difference.

"Personal health is a personal choice, but as city leaders, we must strive to provide an environment that gives people the option and opportunity to focus on health," said Sam Mamet, executive director, Colorado Municipal League. "Our Colorado cities and towns have made significant progress in prioritizing HEAL policies and we look forward to even more cities and towns joining this movement."

The summit was co-hosted by LiveWell Colorado and Leadership for Healthy Communities, and was sponsored by the Colorado Health Foundation, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, and Kaiser Permanente.

About the HEAL Cities & Towns Campaign of Colorado

The HEAL (Healthy Eating and Active Living) Cities & Towns Campaign of Colorado is designed to foster local government policies that improve access to healthy foods and physical activity in communities throughout Colorado. The campaign is a partnership between LiveWell Colorado, a nonprofit organization committed to preventing and reducing obesity in Colorado by promoting healthy eating and active living, and the Colorado Municipal League, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that has served and represented Colorado's cities and towns since 1923. The goal for the HEAL Cities & Towns Campaign of Colorado is to help build healthier communities and support local leaders in their commitment to address both a city's physical and fiscal health. Participation is free, thanks to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment's Cancer, Cardiovascular Disease and Pulmonary Disease Grant Program and the support of Kaiser Permanente. Colorado's initiative is modeled after the HEAL Cities Campaign created in California and is part of the HEAL Nation network.

For more information, visit livewellcolorado.org/healcampaign or contact Julie George, director of the HEAL Cities & Towns Campaign of Colorado, at 720-353-4120 or mailto:juliegeorge@livewellcolorado.org.

For more information about LiveWell Colorado, visit livewellcolorado.org, "like" LiveWell Colorado on Facebook or "follow" @livewellco on Twitter.


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