Thirteen HEAL Cities & Towns Recognized at 2018 Virginia Municipal League Conference

The City of Hampton, Virginia — On October 1st, 2018, the HEAL Cities and Towns Campaign for the Mid-Atlantic welcomed three new members and recognized the achievements of eleven Virginia cities, towns, and counties at the annual Virginia Municipal League’s (VML) Conference in Hampton. The annual VML Conference is an opportunity for municipal officials to gain peer support, build skills and knowledge, and learn about opportunities to enhance their communities.

The HEAL Cities and Towns Campaign is a project of the Institute for Public Health Innovation (IPHI), in partnership with the Virginia Municipal Leagues and with support from Kaiser Permanente of the Mid-Atlantic States. The Campaign provides technical assistance at no cost to municipal leaders to help them create healthy, prosperous communities by adopting healthy eating and active living (HEAL) policies and practices that improve their communities’ physical activity and food environments. The HEAL Cities and Towns Campaign for the Mid-Atlantic has 65 members across Maryland and Virginia.

Cities and towns join the HEAL Campaign by passing a HEAL Resolution that outlines HEAL policy and practice goals to create communities where all people can make healthy choices to eat nutritious food and be physically active. This year, the HEAL Campaign welcomed three new Virginia HEAL municipalities for passing a HEAL Resolution: The Town of Scottsville, the City of Fairfax, and the City of Manassas.

Each year, the Campaign recognizes cities and towns that advance to higher Campaign recognition levels by achieving their healthy eating and active living goals. This year’s honorees included:

Bronze Recognition:

  • The City of Roanoke was awarded Bronze Recognition for initiating a workplace wellness program for City staff including health and wellness workshops, walking groups, stress reduction strategies, and an enhanced employee health fair.
  • The City of Fairfax (also a new HEAL member) was awarded Bronze Recognition for launching Farm to Fairfax, the City’s producer-only farmers market.

Silver Recognition:

  • The Town of Ashland was awarded Silver Recognition for accomplishments related to workplace wellness programs for Town staff. The Town initiated point-based monetary rewards for employees who participate; reimbursements for gym memberships; and, an annual family subscription to the Town’s pool.
  • The City of Falls Church was awarded Silver Recognition for establishing a healthy vending program in its Community Center and developing a City-wide urban agriculture program beginning with a community garden at City Hall.
  • The County of Greensville was awarded Silver Recognition for engaging the County’s Community Health Action Team that works to bring effective health-oriented programs to rural communities. Their work has helped launch community events and provided funding for an upgraded river nature trail, EBT card use at the local farmers market, and a playground at a children’s park. They were also recognized for their financial support of their local YMCA’s Diabetes Control Program.

Gold Recognition:

  • The Town of Big Stone Gap was awarded Gold Recognition for providing free nutrition classes at their Tourist and Information Center, providing free exercise classes like weekly Zumba classes, and taking the million-mile challenge as a town – which aims to have residents collectively walk one million miles in a year.
  • The Town of Bluefield was awarded Gold Recognition for initiating a smoke-free public parks and recreation areas, holding an annual 5K run, and establishing a straw bale community garden for residents downtown.
  • Town of Dumfries was awarded Gold Recognition for accomplishments related to workplace wellness like establishing a staff garden and issuing pedometers and stand-up workstations to town staff.
  • The Town of Wytheville received Gold Recognition for creating walking trails and maps to promote walking in their downtown, providing a free, daily, nutritious snack to children at the municipal swimming pool, and installing handicap-accessible exercise equipment along an existing outdoor walking path.

Platinum Recognition:

  • The City of Hopewell and Prince George County received Platinum HEAL Recognition, the highest HEAL Achievement award. Cities and towns that advance to the Platinum level have attained Gold status and are able to provide evidence that their healthy eating and active living work reaches across government departments and is being evaluated and monitored.

In addition to its awards ceremony, the HEAL Cities & Towns Campaign hosted a panel presentation, “Building Healthy Economies through Healthy Communities.” The presentation featured HEAL Campaign leaders from The City of Charlottesville, the City of Fairfax, and the City of Richmond. The presentation was attended by over 40 participants, including both current HEAL Cities and Towns and attendees interested in learning more about the Campaign.

About the HEAL Cities & Towns Campaign:

The HEAL Cities and Towns Campaign provides free technical assistance to local government leaders to help them create healthy, prosperous communities by adopting policies and practices that improve their communities’ physical activity and food environments. HEAL is a project of the Institute for Public Health Innovation, in partnership with the Maryland and Virginia Municipal Leagues and funded by Kaiser Permanente, founding partner.

For more information, visit the HEAL website at www.healcitiesmidatlantic.org and contact HEAL Program Manager, Sydney Daigle at Sdaigle@institutephi.org.

About Institute for Public Health Innovation: 

IPHI creates partnerships across sectors and cultivates innovative solutions that improve health and well-being for all populations and communities across the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia, particularly those most affected by health inequities. IPHI’s work enhances the environments and conditions in which people live, age, work, learn, and play; strengthens health service systems and public policy; and builds organizational and community capacity to sustain progress.  IPHI is one of over 40 public health institutes across the country and a member of the National Network of Public Health Institutes.

For more information on IPHI, see www.institutephi.org, and follow IPHI on Facebook and Twitter @InstitutePHI.

###