Submitted by Thurston County Board of Commissioners
Thurston County has been selected to receive $25,000 as part of the Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge (the Challenge) Spotlight Award for its “Active Design for a Healthier Community” project. Ten winners and five honorable mentions were selected to improve opportunities for all Americans to take an active role in healthy living – regardless of income, education or ethnic background.
The award is part of the Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge, an initiative launched in 2016 by the Aetna Foundation, along with the American Public Health Association (APHA) and the National Association of Counties (NACo), supporting small-to-midsize cities and counties to implement innovative solutions for their local public health issues. The $1.5 million Challenge competition is awarded among communities around the U.S. for programs to improve access to healthy foods, increase physical activity, and reduce violence and crime. Fifty finalists were chosen based on strategies to improve the health of their communities in at least one of five areas: healthy behaviors, community safety, built environment, social/economic factors, and environmental exposures.
The Thurston Thrives Community Design Action Team project focuses on identifying and supporting improvements to Thurston County’s regional trails, to make them more accessible for people living nearby to use. It’s part of an overall strategy to make daily physical activity easier for local residents, boosting their levels of exercise (30 minutes per day for adults, 60 minutes per day for children and youth). The project has posted its results on the Thurston County Public Health & Social Services website. These include places where trail access paths are needed, number of nearby residents or employees, and locations for benches, signs, and other improvements.
“This award recognizes the great partnerships at the heart of Thurston Thrives, and our continuing efforts to build a healthier community,” said Schelli Slaughter, Director of the County’s Public Health & Social Services Department.
“The Community Design team and other local partners are working hard to make it easy, enjoyable, and safe to go for a walk or engage in active transportation, so residents can get more healthy activity every day.”
“At the Aetna Foundation, we know that a positive health impact can be made when communities work together to tackle social determinants of health,” said Dr. Garth Graham, president of the Aetna Foundation. “We are honored to showcase these innovative organizations as Spotlight Award winners for their commitment to improving local health conditions and creating healthier, safer places.”
For more information on the Spotlight Awards, the recognized organizations, and the Challenge, visit www.healthiestcities.org. Information on the local team’s work will be shared at the February 13 Board of Health meeting and at a regional active community design forum in March.