Pioneering Healthier Communities in Sussex County
There are a number of significant health concerns greatly affecting the overall well-being of Americans today. An increase in obesity, the lack of physical activity, and poor nutrition are among the top few preventable health issues devastating the health of our nation and costing billions in health care costs. Many agencies and community-based programs are working towards promoting healthier lifestyles and preventing chronic diseases.
The YMCA has been a leader in the area of health and wellness for many years. Pioneering Healthier Communities (PHC) is one initiative by the YMCA that "focuses on policy and environmental change in communities to promote healthy lifestyles." Together with support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, PHC has established goals that create the framework for community-level awareness, policy change, and a call to action.
The Y-USA (YMCA for the United States) has received funding to allow for this policy change initiative to occur in six states and 32 communities over a period of five years. Sussex County was selected to be one of those communities to participate in this project. The team consists of members from the Sussex County YMCA, the Sussex County Department of Environmental and Public Health Services, Sussex County Community College, Newton Memorial Hospital, Sussex County Administration, Sussex County Chamber of Commerce, New Jersey Herald, Sussex County Board of Agriculture, physicians and local businesses.
The team has been working together to make Sussex County the healthiest county in New Jersey by incorporating healthy living into the culture of the community. The Sussex County PHC members meet on a monthly basis to discuss the health outcomes that they would like to accomplish and have developed three goals that they would like to achieve within the County. The first goal is to increase physical activity and health education in addition to improving nutrition in all schools through changing school policies. The second goal is to focus on increasing the physical activity of all Sussex County residents by creating safer places to be active and establishing worksite wellness programs. The last goal of the PHC team is to make locally grown foods readily available to Sussex County residents.
Pioneering Healthier Communities is an on-going initiative in Sussex County that will continue to work toward modifying existing policies and making changes to the physical environment in order to improve the health of the community. The team will continue to work together, increasing membership as needed and following the leading practices established by Y-USA. Through efficient community-based health promotion and preventative efforts, we can all make Sussex County the healthiest county in New Jersey.