Municipal Leaders Show Commitment To Create Healthier New Hampshire Communities
CONCORD, NH — Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) NH, one of New Hampshire's leading organizations supporting healthy community initiatives, announced today that it will provide funding, training and other resources to four New Hampshire cities and towns – Ashland, Berlin, Laconia, and Nashua. The communities will receive approximately $10,000 in grant monies and over $80,000 of training and technical assistance over the two-year grant period.
The grants were awarded to help communities identify and implement municipal strategies – such as adding bike paths, sidewalks, and farmers markets – to provide more choices for residents to eat healthy and be physically active. Special consideration was given to rural towns and urban neighborhoods with health, social, and economic disparities (factors that lead to higher incidences of obesity and chronic diseases).
The HEAL Community Grant Program is unusual because it requires municipal management (mayors, select boards, town managers) to take the lead in mobilizing community members to work together – in contrast with traditional community health improvement models led by public health agencies or nonprofits.
"We are pleased to work with these four municipalities and their community partners that have shown readiness and enthusiasm towards making long-term changes in their community to promote health and quality of life," said Terry Johnson, Director of HEAL NH. "We have adopted the municipal grant model because it is vital to have the commitment of city and town executives from the onset of these projects. They can be strong influencers and champions for the ways our communities are designed, which, in turn, affects the health of our residents."
HEAL currently provides funding and support to seven community coalitions, reaching more than 50 cities and towns in New Hampshire. Their work is helping to further the vision of healthy people in healthy places by providing more convenient, affordable and safe access to healthy foods and physical activity. A model example is the Upper Valley HEAL coalition whose community partners represent municipalities, schools, early childcare, health care, workplaces, local food groups, recreation and residents. Among the many projects Upper Valley HEAL is working on is improving pedestrian and bicycling pathways between the town centers and neighborhoods of Lebanon and West Lebanon via the Mascoma River Greenway.
About HEAL NH: The Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) NH campaign began in 2008 and is led by the Foundation for Healthy Communities, a non-profit New Hampshire organization focused on improving health and health care through innovative partnerships. HEAL is supported by a collaboration of foundations and state agencies committed to promoting health and wellbeing for all New Hampshire residents. Funding is provided by HNHfoundation, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation, Endowment for Health, NH Charitable Foundation, and NH Department of Health and Human Services. More information about the HEAL NH Campaign can be found at www.healnh.org.