For a community to prevent chronic conditions, such as obesity, having easy access to healthy food and recreation is important. Aetna is involved in an innovative partnership to help communities across the United States address these health issues, as well as a variety of other problems. With the help, these communities have a better chance at long-term success.
Fifty cities and counties across the United States were chosen as finalists in the Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge. A partnership between the Aetna Foundation, the American Public Health Association (APHA) and the National Association of Counties (NACo), in collaboration with CEOs for Cities, the challenge will award $1.5 million in prizes to communities that show measurable improvements in health indicators and social determinants of health.
Here are the finalists from the southwestern region of the United States:
Recreation on the Move — Avondale, Arizona
As part of the Recreation on the Move project, officials in Avondale are teaming up with local mobile farmers markets to bring health-focused recreational programs to the city’s low-income neighborhoods. Most of Avondale’s recreation programs are held in large, regional parks and facilities, which can be costly and hard to get to.
Tulsa Healthy Cities Coalition — Tulsa, Oklahoma
The Tulsa Healthy Cities Coalition is working to reduce obesity and food insecurity by making it easier for residents to purchase fruits and vegetables. Adults in this area tend to eat fewer than the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables each day.
The project plans to increase access to healthy foods, increase nutrition education and reduce the barriers to healthy and affordable food options.
Sandoval Health Booklet — Sandoval County, New Mexico
Diabetes and obesity are leading health problems in Sandoval County, where over 139,000 people live. Sandoval County’s project includes children serving as young health ambassadors. Children will use a booklet, as well as activities, menus, videos and health resource links, to encourage their families to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Waco-McLennan County Public Health District — Waco, Texas
The project will help residents in three zip codes access and eat healthy foods by promoting current resources of fresh and locally grown food. Residents will also have the opportunity to attend nutrition education sessions and utilize community health workers to connect residents to resources, as well as provide fresh produce delivery.
Build Brownsville Community Project — Brownsville, Texas
Brownsville and surrounding areas experience high levels of poverty, limited access to health care, scarce access to healthy foods and high rates of unhealthy lifestyles. To change this, officials will create easily accessible community gardens and suitable bike and pedestrian paths.
Wichita County Healthy Cities + Counties Project — Wichita Falls, Texas
Adults and children in Wichita Falls tend to consume fewer than five servings of fruits and vegetables each day, and many children in the area are also exposed to secondhand smoke.
Officials will create a program to address these issues by working with local schools to create a “Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child” health program to introduce health-promoting practices. The program will seek to instill healthy habits to increase physical activity, improve unhealthy eating habits, and reduce smoking in vehicles. A social media campaign will also be launched to educate the community about the dangers of secondhand smoke.