Community wellness happens when we apply wellness principles in a way that can improve our cities and towns. Don Ardelll, a wellness promoter who ran for Mayor of Tampa in 2005, offered his vision for his city:
I want a well city where people embrace personal responsibility and individual freedom, where courtesy and civility are valued and practiced, where continuing education is available to all, where there are ample incentives for involvement in local government and where wellness qualities are integrated into city life and public policy. Furthermore, just as the three areas of fit, fun and free interconnect with and complement each other, so too do they affect such seemingly unrelated areas as transportation, public safety, growth management, the business climate, job availability and so on.
Pie in the sky? Obviously, we don’t think so. We might even add to Don’s ideas some of our own, for example, that our communities hold the keys to healthier children, less damage to our environment and maybe even the reversal of our worst public health epidemic, obesity.
We offer three scenarios for you to use as starting points:
- What would happen if more people became involved with their local school boards or districts? Could we bring back physical education as a requirement for all children? How about creating a school nutrition policy that prohibits junk foods and drinks and institutes nutrition/fitness education starting with grade one. When asked about how this might impact funding priorities, the response would be that helping kids become and stay fit now will save their lives. Can you say the same thing about social studies?
- What would happen if more communities adopted sound trash recycling programs or a “Pay as you throw” approach? The latter program entails families purchasing approved bags for their non-recyclable trash. The more you recycle, the less you spend on trash bags. City workers are trained to reject any trash that isn’t recycled or enclosed in the required bags. It’s amazing how quickly your habits change when your pocketbook is involved. As recycling becomes the norm, we should also see less trash on our roads and highways, all of which improves our sense of wellness.
- What would happen if we formed community-wide weight loss challenges? Let’s imagine each State setting aside a small grant ($5000?) to be awarded to the community that lost the most weight as a group each year? Basic guidelines would help people get started but the programs would be run in each community to best suit the needs of its citizens. For example, participants could be organized into competing groups by age or gender. Even more interesting might be groups of club members competing with each other who would reach out to the rest of the community to get them involved.
To help you get started, we’ve decided to organize some of our content and products into five levels or spheres of wellness – individual, family, worksite, community and global – to help people pursue wellness at any level or sphere. If you decide to learn about or work on wellness projects, you’ll be able to search on “community wellness” or “worksite wellness”, for example, and pull up a list of articles and products that might be useful. SeekWellness.com will be branding articles and products with our Community Wellness icon that are particularly useful to citizens who wish to pursue a community wellness philosophy. Look for these icons to begin appearing on our pages.
Please let us know how you feel about our mission and what kinds of information or products you would find useful in your efforts.
Here are some resources to help you get started:
- Design Innovations to Promote Fitness
- Designing A Well Environment
- Designing A Well Environment (Part Two)
- Designing A Well Environment (the final essay in a three part series)
- Quality Of Life And Residential Wellness: What To Look For In Master-Planned Communities
- A Skeptical Look at Volunteering
- Are Wellness Enthusiasts Culture Elitists?
- Creating A Health Care System With Incentives for Wellness
- UNH Cooperative Extension Service has published a variety of helpful articles:
- Green Seal is an independent non-profit organization dedicated to safeguarding the environment and transforing the marketplace by promoting the manufacture, purchase, and use of environmentally responsible products and services.
- Action for Healthy Kids is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to addressing the epidemic of overweight, undernourished and sedentary youth by focusing on changes in schools. They work in all 50 states and the District of Columbia to improve children's nutrition and increase physical activity.
- Coalition Against Drug Abuse is a comprehensive resource about alcohol and drug abuse. It has recently published new research on substance abuse and weight.