Health Department leader adds new voice to coalition's efforts to improve community health
- on February 13, 2013
By CHRIS TILDEN
I recently moved back to Lawrence — the place I’ve called home for most of my life — after spending several years in Idaho. Like many, I believe Lawrence is a special place because of its diversity, rich history, engaged citizenry and vitality.
I hope to contribute to that vitality as the new director of Community Health at the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department. In my role, I have the privilege to be involved in a range of efforts to make Lawrence a better place to live for future generations and us. One of those efforts is LiveWell Lawrence.
Five years ago, a group of local business leaders, organization leaders and concerned individuals formed a coalition called LiveWell Lawrence to promote health in the community. LiveWell’s members recognize that poor health affects everyone — it affects our schools, our businesses and our workplaces. They recognize that communities can only flourish when their people are healthy and productive, and we have work to do.
In Douglas County:
• 86 percent of adults do NOT get the recommended daily servings of fruits and vegetables.
• 50 percent of residents do not get enough physical activity.
• 25 percent of residents report they are smokers and 8 percent say they smoke every day.
• 25 percent of adults are obese. Someone who is obese has a body mass index of 30 or greater, which would be at least 186 pounds for a 5-foot-6 woman or 215 pounds for a 5-foot-11 man.
LiveWell’s goal is to make it easier for residents to eat healthy, get exercise and quit smoking. It’s not something that’s going to happen overnight or in five years or even in a decade. It’s going to take time and LiveWell is committed to “staying the course.”
During the past year, the Health Department was selected to provide coordinating services for LiveWell. The coalition meets monthly and has been instrumental in helping the Health Department develop some components of the Community Health Plan that will be completed later this spring. LiveWell also will be celebrating its five-year anniversary this year with a look back at its successes and a look forward at what needs to be done to make Lawrence and Douglas County a healthier place to live.
— Chris Tilden is the director of Community Health at the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department.