HEALTHY COMMUNITIES AND CLEVELANDERS IN MOTION
The Healthy Communities Initiative brings health services to inner-city neighborhoods, reaching residents who might otherwise only seek health care at a hospital emergency room.
The program promotes a healthier community, with a special emphasis on African-American, Latino, inner-city and first ring suburban neighbors who are at the highest risk for lifestyle-related chronic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
In Cuyahoga County, depending where you live can affect your lifespan by as many as 24.5 years, according to a study conducted by Dr. Anthony Iton for the Cuyahoga County Board of Health. Dr. Iton serves as Senior Vice President for Healthy Communities at The California Endowment, following 12 years of service as the Public Health Director for Alameda County, California. His primary interest is the health of disadvantaged populations and the contributions of race, class, wealth, education, geography and employment to health status.
For example, a resident in Lyndhurst can expect to live 88.5 years, while a resident of the Hough neighborhood in Cleveland (located just seven miles away) has a life expectancy of just 64 years. The mortality rate from heart disease for white residents in Cuyahoga County is 289 persons per 100,000 residents, while the rate among African-American residents stands at 331 per 100,000. Likewise, the stroke rate is 57 per 100,000 for white Cuyahoga County residents, and 66 per 100,000 among African- American residents.
Many forces combine to produce such extreme health disparity outcomes.
For example, most of us have the leisure of not having to think about where we can find high quality fresh produce close to home, but for many Cleveland and first ring suburban residents, their neighborhoods may lack full-service grocery stores. For those lucky enough to live in a community where a full-service grocery store exists, access to healthy food is not assured, as 25% of Cuyahoga County residents do not own cars.
Coupled with recent cut backs in local Community Circulator bus routes, getting to a grocery store is a hardship for many. Likewise, all communities are not equally accommodating of healthy, active lifestyles. Many neighborhoods and communities are bisected by wide streets carrying high traffic volumes. Excessive vehicular speeds compound problems for pedestrians, runners and bicyclists.
As a result, living and leading a healthy lifestyle has been shown to reduce the risk of obesity and chronic diseases. However, changing your lifestyle for the better becomes a challenge in communities such as these.
Clevelanders in Motion is the primary program initiative under the Y’s Healthy Communities and works with grassroots and institutional partners to advance opportunities for increased access to healthy and affordable foods. They also aim to to advance opportunities for safe, attractive roads and sidewalks on which to walk, run or bicycle.
The program accomplishes its work through collaborative partnerships which create conferences and seminars aimed towards local planners and engineers, as well as neighborhood levels, where it plans projects and programs which help to create convenient healthy living opportunities.
Key partners with whom the program works with include the Cleveland City Planning Commission, the Sustainable Transportation Action Team (STAT) 2019 (an outgrowth of the 2009 Sustainability Summit), The Ohio State Extension Service, several neighborhood-based organizations including Slavic Village Development Corporation and the Ward One Community Health Initiative.
Clevelanders in Motion has made presentations on the interplay between the environment within which we live and information on our health outcomes at the American Planning Association-Cleveland Chapter’s Planning & Zoning Workshop, Bioneers 2010, Greater Cleveland Trails and Greenways Conference.
It has developed various marketing materials such as: healthy recipe postcards in partnership with OSU Extension Service and Dave’s Supermarkets, a downtown walking map with the support of Medical Mutual of Ohio, and neighborhood walking maps in partnership with the Steps to a Healthier Cleveland program and eight neighborhood community development organizations.
Additionally, CIM created a Cleveland Division of Water supported a "Water is Cool" educational campaign to promote the importance of adequate water consumption. A Free Exercise Equipment campaign was also developed, in partnership with the Steps to a Healthier Cleveland program, to promote stair walking.
CIM staff participate in around three dozen community health and fitness events throughout the year, sponsored by its many partners. Generous program supporters to date include:
Additional in-kind supporters include Dave’s Supermarkets, the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority, Clear Channel Outdoor, Medical Mutual of Ohio and Omni Media.
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