For Hometown News
The Florida Department of Health in Volusia County applauds the efforts of three Volusia communities recognized statewide as Healthy Weight Community Champions -- New Smyrna Beach, Ormond Beach and Ponce Inlet
"We are delighted that three of our communities are being recognized as Healthy Weight Community Champions," said Dr. Bonnie J. Sorensen, county health department director. "With one out of three children now considered overweight and 65 percent of adults at an unhealthy weight, it is time to work together to improve the health of our entire community."
New Smyrna Beach created and implemented Florida's first Mayor's Fitness Challenge. A local coalition of students, health systems, fitness centers and community businesses was formed to support the challenge. The Mayor's Fitness Challenge has been packaged and offered to surrounding cities and has grown to 1,000 participants in Volusia.
Ormond Beach is being recognized for multiple accomplishments. The city adopted a multi-modal transportation strategy with sidewalks, trails and bus service. Developers pay a multi-modal fee instead of a road impact fee to support alternative transportation modes to the automobile.
In 2013, Ormond Beach launched its first Mayor's Health and Fitness Challenge with a 12-week program open to residents and workers and includes: before and after biometrics; three-months of YMCA access; free and reduced rate classes at local fitness centers; special menu items at local restaurants; free meal preparation sessions with recipes and coaching. City employees receive free gym access through their insurance program and an employee wellness day is held annually. The city manager hosts a monthly "Walk with the Manager" where residents join the manager on a two-mile walk throughout the community. Residents have free city-run gyms and weight rooms. At events sponsored by the city, it uses food and beverage vendors who offer healthy options.
Ponce Inlet maintains a network of sidewalks along major roads and in many residential streets, requiring a "Complete Streets" approach to all new and redeveloped roads. Also, the Atlantic Ocean beaches within town limits is part of the designated "World's Most Famous Beach" walking trail. Finally, many of the town's parks feature networks of hiking/walking trails and walkways through natural dune systems, wetlands, and forest.
Ponce Inlet is considering amendments to its development requirements to allow vegetable gardens in front yards and to allow fruit trees to count toward meeting minimum landscaping requirements. The Town and a local health club co-sponsored a month long event called Shape Up Ponce Inlet in November, featuring zumba, boot camp and yoga.
Between November and February, local governments were invited to submit best practice policies they have implemented to promote physical activity and improve nutrition in their jurisdictions. The "best practice" policies are exemplified by the Healthy Weight Community Champions. A list of the communities and best practices can be found at HealthiestWeightFL.com.