Chino Shapes Up With a Healthy Coalition
The City of Chino won an Award for Excellence in the Health and Wellness Programs category of the 2007 Helen Putnam Award for Excellence program. For more about the award program, visit www.cacities.org/helenputnam.
Chino ’s obesity epidemic prompted the city to launch the Healthy Chino Coalition. In 2003, nearly 60 percent of adults living in the City of Chino were overweight or obese, according to the California Department of Health Services. The Healthy Chino Coalition comprises community leaders, schools, businesses, medical professionals, churches, service organizations and dedicated residents working together. Developed in 2005, the coalition’s mission is to “increase healthy lifestyle options and the quality of life for our community.” The Chino City Council supported this effort by passing a resolution establishing Chino as a healthy community and providing funds to further the Healthy Chino Coalition mission.
Obesity is a problem nationwide. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that two out of every three American adults – and more than one in six children and adolescents – are overweight or obese. Chino residents are also experiencing the health problems associated with sedentary lifestyles, poor nutrition choices and urban sprawl. The number of obesity-related causes of death in 2003 was 12 percent higher for Chino residents than for other Californians. During the 2004 school year, less than 25 percent of Chino Valley Unified School District students in the 5th, 7th and 9th grades met state Department of Education fitness standards.
Increasing Healthy Lifestyle Options for Residents
The Healthy Chino Coalition is addressing the challenge of increasing the healthy lifestyle options and quality of life for Chino residents by focusing on five areas:
- Safe and Walkable Neighborhoods. Lewis Operating Companies, developer of the Chino Preserve and a Healthy Chino Coalition partner and program sponsor, included design elements within the preserve community with the objective of promoting active lifestyles for residents of this newest area of Chino.
- Nutrition. The Chino Community Garden provides an opportunity for residents to grow their own healthy produce and participate in physical activity through gardening. City staff and Healthy Chino Coalition partners, such as Home Depot, conduct monthly workshops at the garden to educate and encourage the gardeners. In summer 2006, the city began a weekly certified farmers’ market at the downtown civic center complex to promote healthy nutrition choices and increase access to farm fresh produce for residents. City staff participate with the school district as a member of the district’s wellness planning committee that developed a nutrition education and physical fitness policy. Numerous nutrition seminars and classes, with topics such as “Family Nutrition Made Simple” and “Strong Bones, Healthy Families,” are provided to the community at the city’s public facilities. City staff and coalition members also promote healthy snack options to local youth sports groups and at city facilities.
- Public Education. The Healthy Chino program shares information about recipes, health, nutrition and medical data through numerous publications and outreach efforts. Healthy Chino participates at every city event, providing the public educational information. Healthy Chino programs and events are widely promoted via the city’s cable access channel and newsletters.
- Health and Human Services. A critical component of the Healthy Chino program is the development of a Mental Health Guide for the Chino Valley. Created, compiled and printed through the collaborative effort of coalition businesses and individuals, this resource guide includes reference and contact information for counseling, support groups and crisis hotlines in the Chino area. The “Employee StairWELL Art Gallery,” in which original artwork created by city employees is displayed in the city hall stairwells, promotes employee morale and wellbeing while encouraging city staff to use the stairs for exercise.
- Physical Activity. In 2006, the Healthy Chino Coalition implemented several new programs focusing on physical activity. These include Chino Walks, a community-walking program with a goal to walk a total distance equivalent the earth’s circumference and the Healthy Chino Employee Wellness program, which encourages city staff to increase physical activity through a number of programs. Family Fitness Day is a communitywide event dedicated to encouraging family members of all ages to exercise and make healthy meal choices, emphasizing that doing so can be fun for the entire family.
Getting in Shape
The level of participation from the community in the Healthy Chino events and programs, as well as the continued commitment of the businesses, service organizations, school district and individual members that make up the coalition, continues to gain momentum. Along with the city council, the Chino Valley Unified School District passed a resolution pledging their support of the Healthy Chino mission to increase the healthy lifestyle options and the quality of life in the Chino community.
The Chino Walks program has been a huge success both in terms of numbers of participants and miles walked. In 2006, participants in the monthly Chino Walks events walked a total of 25,616 miles, exceeding their goal of walking around the world. Between February and December 2007, participants logged 21,485 miles.
The city’s commitment to including a Healthy Chino element in the updated Chino General Plan will be realized in 2008. This element will address the relationship between public health and the built environment as a means of promoting lasting population-based health improvement. Believed to be the first health element included in a city’s general plan, it has caught the attention of other cities in the region.
The City of Chino is dedicated to reversing the dangerous health trends that have plagued so many communities throughout the nation. The mission of the Healthy Chino Coalition has resonated with residents, community leaders, students and businesses throughout the city. Chino will continue to partner with the other coalition members in support of increasing healthy lifestyle options and the quality of life for its residents, as well as continuing to share with other communities the success of the Healthy Chino program.
Contact: Linda Reich, deputy director of community services, City of Chino; phone: (909) 591-9832; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article appears in the January 2008 issue of Western
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