Health Matters Spring 2019 - Page 9

continued from page 8 Live the YMCA has committed to developing one-on-one rela- tionships with participants to provide the accountability and support that is needed to help participants reach their immediate and long-term goals. The YMCA also of- fers weekly health challenges and ongoing weight checks. Archbold hospital staff is contributing addition- al resources, including special community-based health talks and cooking classes for participants. Partners “We knew early on it would take even broader collab- oration to achieve long-term success. We created a Live Better ‘partner’ level so that businesses and organiza- tions in the community could actively support the goals Live Better, specifically improving the health of the com- munity by leveraging the strengths of their organiza- tion, big or small,” said Bennett. “When we began this process, we had a handful of partners. To date, 34 community businesses have now signed agreements to be Live Better partners. We have 15 local restaurants that make it easier for patrons to choose healthier meals by highlighting ‘Live Better’ menu items that meet nutrition criteria developed by our registered dietitians. We also have six gyms, two banks, Thomas University, Southern Regional Technical College, the Thomas County Library, and several other local businesses as Live Better partners. All community partners have committed in writing as to how they will contribute to improving the health of the community.” Getting Active To reinforce the link between chronic disease and obesity two community races were established. The Live Better Pink Run is now an annual event, with the third annual race recently completed in October. More than 300 runners and walkers participated in the 5k race, and to keep the race fresh in 2018, a multi-station course was included in the final quarter mile. In February 2019, the second annual Heart and Sole Run was held, a one-mile run for K-5 kids to highlight the connection between heart disease and obesity. 100 runners completed the race, and free heart health screenings were offered for adults that accompanied their children. Outcomes and Progress “Three years later, we have reached more children, established new alliances, had the opportunity to influ- ence city planning, and develop new methods of clinical outreach,” said Lowe. “We have a more engaged com- munity coming together around a common theme: Live Better.” “We have seen some modest decreases in obesity in our adult population over the last three years. In our K- 5 population, we slightly exceeded our most recent goal of increasing the number of students in grades K-5 who fall within the Healthy Fitness Zone by 3 percent,” said Bennett. “Success in significantly reducing the obesity rate in our county is realistically going to take many years, per- haps a generation. We’re pleased with the progress we’ve made thus far. What we’re trying to accomplish will likely happen incrementally, but we must continue our path and not let up,” said Mustian. “We believe that as Live Better gains more partners, performs more outreach, expands programs and events and grows in influence, living healthy will be the norm, not the exception. Having these measurable goals will help us be accountable, and we believe accountability will make the difference between well-intentioned ef- forts versus efforts that are sustainable and yield posi- tive outcomes. Please see LIVE, page 10 SPRING 2019 9