Healthy Southern Cities Summit Brings Municipal Leaders from 30 Communities Together to Improve Community Health and Well-Being
May 01, 2012
Creating a healthy Mid South is a comprehensive effort, and calls for the involvement of healthcare systems, health professional and residents they serve. Municipal leaders may not be the first to come to mind as resources for promoting health and well-being, but the Foundation is learning how they can play key roles in creating local environments that promote healthy living.
In our smallest towns and largest cities, too many Mid Southerners have limited access to nutritious food and health services, to infrastructure like sidewalks and parks, and to knowledge that encourages healthy behaviors like exercise and healthful eating. One way the Foundation is looking to improve health outcomes in the region is by working directly with municipal leaders to support efforts addressing community health challenges. When people see their city officials championing for more exercise, a healthier diet and routine check-ups, and advocating for changes to systems and policies to support healthier environments, they realize that health is not just an individual concern, but effects the well-being of the entire community.
Recently, the Foundation and its partners brought together mayors and municipal leaders from 30 cities and towns of various sizes throughout Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi for the Healthy Southern Cities Summit. The leaders shared ideas, networked and learned about new, innovative efforts and available resources to promote community collaboration and increase access to physical activity and fresh, nutritious foods.
Municipal leaders learned first-hand how communities in the region—like Okolona, MS; Patterson, LA; and Little Rock, AR, and others—have begun to move the needle toward improved health, even with minimal or sometimes no funding. Participants also heard from national experts on how to sustain projects in their communities, leverage resources and build partnerships to ensure greater reach, positive results and sustainability.
“Some of the leaders expressed to me they left the summit recharged and energized with new ideas for their communities,” said Dwanda Moore, Program Officer. “The commone theme expressed throughout the meeting was the need for more civic engagement and more collaboration between schools, churches, businesses and the city.”
The Foundation believes in the power of partnership and how it positively affects community support, as well as effective results and sustainability. Our work with municipal leaders involves many others, including the National League of Cities, state departments of health and Municipal Leagues across the region. By working together, the partnership is ensuring that communities have access to more resources, become more actively involved in and have ownership of community health efforts, as well as a voice in the issues that affect them.
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