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Better Community Support for Preventing Chronic Disease

State: Iowa

Submitted Date: 2008

Public Health Issue
  • Lack of access to healthy food and physical activity is a major contributor to the higher rates of chronic conditions such as diabetes, obesity and other health problems in communities.
Program Action
  • The Action Communities for Health, Innovation and Environmental Change initiative, or ACHIEVE, applies a community model using health departments & YMCAs as trusted conveners and community ‘coaches.’ The National Association of Chronic Disease Directors and YMCA of the USA provide ACHIEVE grants and technical assistance using funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • The ACHIEVE model and funding helped the Black Hawk County Health Department and  YMCA strengthen community partnerships to impact the overall health of the Cedar Valley through policy actions on healthy food, worksite initiatives and chronic disease.
  • Signature initiatives are expansion of community gardens and a healthy work site resource guide to assist local businesses in creating work sites that actively promote healthy choices.
Impact
  • ·Meeting with the Waterloo City Council alerted them to the community’s high rate of obesity and overweight among local schoolchildren – an important first step in educating the Council about the scope of the problem and the opportunities for improving access to healthy food and physical activity.
  • Meetings with the City Council, Planning and Zoning Department, and regional Council on Governments are beginning to change how policymakers think about ways to improve their community for the benefit of residents’ health.
  • The first, local Healthy Communities NOW Conference is influencing food- and physical activity-related policies in work settings by reaching local business and community leaders. 
  • Two years of community gardening growth have improved access to fresh foods in the Cedar River Neighborhood; spurred donation of over 115 pounds of produce from the MAPLES neighborhood to the NE Iowa Food Bank; created a pilot project to open public land to Latinos for small scale commercial produce production; and established a cancer prevention initiative, Healthy Cedar Valley, to promote community gardening.
  • Membership for the ACHIEVE Health Department Coach on Iowa’s Prevention and Chronic Care Management Advisory Council which will make policy recommendations to the Iowa Legislature regarding prevention of chronic disease. 
Contact
Kirk Alexander
Black Hawk YMCA
319-233-3531
KAlexander@blackhawkymca.org