BY, Eric Cox
Healthy Communities of Henry County (HCHC) hosted its annual meeting and luncheon Friday at Henry County Memorial Hospital.
About 25 people attended the event, which featured a healthy lunch followed by two presentations. The featured speaker was Pete Fritz, a health communities planner with the Indiana Department of Health.
Fritz was followed by Jason Griffin, a parks and trails project manager with Indianapolis-based engineering firm Butler Fairman & Seufert.
HCHC President Chris Williams welcomed the crowd, recognized HCHC volunteers and introduced the guests.
Fritz first shared details of his background, which include having served as an urban planner and a landscape architect. His previous work involved developing zoning ordinances, designing parks, comprehensive planning, bike and pedestrian plans, etc.
“Now I find myself working for a state agency promoting changes to the built environment in order to get people out and moving, and also to facilitate better nutrition in communities,” said Fritz. “All of this revolves around creating active communities and promoting active transportation.”
According to Fritz, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) funds his work via the state department of health. CDC’s goal in all this, he said, is to use this “active communities” approach help reduce obesity and chronic disease. “(The CDC) said that by using this community-wide approach, we can have bigger impacts than by concentrating so much on the individual.”
Within the department of health, Fritz is directly associated with the Division of Nutrition and Physical Activity. In that realm, his focus is on trails, streets and active (non-motorized) transportation.
Of course, these are topics of growing interest in Henry County, as groups like HCHC bring trails and healthy living to the forefront of current issues.
Home to the Wilbur Wright Trail (a portion of which opened last fall), the National Road Heritage Trail near Knightstown and the Wooly Bear Parkway in Kennard, Henry County volunteers have indeed been busy over the last several years. Fritz reinforced the need for such sea change when it comes to future transportation options as well as the overall health of county residents.
He said the CDC’s big push for a broader approach to healthy activity came in the form of its landmark program Healthy People 2020. According to Fritz, the program presents a multi-disciplinary approach that employs both traditional partnerships (health, education, etc.) with new, non-traditional partnerships which bring transportation, urban planning, recreation and environmental health and more into consideration.
These are relatively new partners to the public health field,” he said. “But, they’re becoming very important partners in order to have this combined approach.”
Fritz gave a broad and detailed overview of how Indiana is using and promoting both healthy weight (www.inhealthyweight.org) and other healthy activity programs in hopes of fomenting a mass shift in people’s thinking with respect to transportation, nutrition and healthier living.
Citing statistics, Fritz said 66 percent of Americans want transportation options, “so they have the freedom to choose how to get where they want to go - and that includes walking and bicycling,” he said. “It also includes that one-third of people in Indiana who don’t even own cars. Those people want to have a choice about how to get around.”
Fritz also hit on the economic value of such programs. He said business leaders around the country are seeing a correlation between communities with good “walkability” and increased home values. Moreover, he said the National Association of Realtors continues to remark on the importance of bicycling and walking to real estate values.
“That’s why the realtors are interested in this,” Fritz explained. “Because they know there’s value in living in walkable communities.”
Butler Fairman & Seufert’s Jason Griffin, who followed Fritz with his own presentation, echoed some of what Fritz said about economic benefits. Griffin is helping New Castle plan its own system of active transportation infrastructure.
“We have to create reasons for businesses and people to move here,” he said. “This is all-important.”
Griffin said four traits of bike- and pedestrian-friendly community include improved health benefits for residents; a boost to economic development; environmental benefits; and better overall quality of life.
“A goal is to retain current citizens and attract new ones,” Griffin said. “We also want to increase the number of people who exercise daily by providing safe opportunities for citizens. That includes enhancing community connections to neighborhoods, parks and schools (where exercise can occur).”
According to the CDC, over one-third of all Americans are obese by national standards. Weight-related illnesses like heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes contribute to a sizeable price tag, costing citizens nearly $150 billion per year. On average, according to CDC, obese people pay $1,429 more in annual healthcare costs compared to those of normal weight.
In 2010, studies showed about 29 percent of Hoosiers were obese, one of the highest rates in the nation.
Fritz said such data can be reversed if communities are willing to open up to programs like Safe Routes to School, a federally funded grant program which finances sidewalks and trails kids can use to walk or ride bikes to the classroom. Kennard completed a Safe Routes to School project in 2012, installing new sidewalks along Vine Street, leading to Kennard Elementary School.
Fritz said many physicians are now calling physical activity a form of medicine. “Physicians are now writing what they call ‘Park Prescriptions’. They give people a prescription to go to a park - and walk. They know they can make changes in that patient’s life by doing that.”
Fritz said statistics also bear out that those who live near parks are healthier. “If you live near a park,” he said, “you’re likely to have a lower Body Mass Index. You’ll be thinner and healthier the closer you live to a park.”
Additionally, Fritz explained that countries that utilize active transportation actually have lower obesity rates. “… Canada, United Kingdom, Italy, Germany, Sweden, Austria, all the way down to The Netherlands - they have way high levels of active transportation and very low levels of obesity. That is starting to bear out in communities throughout the United States.”
Health Communities of Henry County Sidebar
By Eric Cox
Last year was very active for Health Communities of Henry County (HCHC), a non-profit group aimed at enhancing health and fitness here.
HCHC President Chris Williams highlighted the group’s 2013 accomplishments and recognized several key volunteers at HCHC’s annual meeting and luncheon last Friday in New Castle.
Aside from planting 1,000 trees around Henry County in 2013, HCHC volunteers also hosted their third annual Earth Day celebration, along with the fifth annual Treading for Trails 5k walk/run and the 15th annual Raintree Ride.
The group was also the main fundraiser for Henry County trail development, a fact that got underscored when a portion of the freshly-paved Wilbur Wright Trail enjoyed a grand opening in New Castle. In all, HCHC secured over $20,000 for trail development, construction and maintenance. The group also purchased land for the expansion of National Road Heritage Trail near Knightstown.
Volunteers recognized included: accounting: Brandy Washler; Events: Jerry Back, Abby Cole, Jan Crider, Kendra Ham, Jeff Ray, Judy Ray, Stephen Robinson, Nicole Weaver, Chris Williams and Raintree Cycling Club; Fun Park: Bill Bledsoe, E.T.’s, New Castle Career Center, New Castle Parks Dept., Jeff Ray, Judy Ray, Stephen Robinson and Evan Taylor; Marketing: Jan Lockridge, Beverly Matthews, Nicole Weaver; Trail Maintenance: Mike Broyles, Dennis Hamilton, Rick McColley, Jerry Libby, Ken Platts, Jeff Ray, John Ryan, Tom Sanders, Steve Spyker, Chris Williams and Forest Wyatt; Tree Planting: JoAnne McCorkle, New Castle High School students, Don Pyle, Jeff Ray, Judy Ray and Randy Smith.
“There are many ways to become involved in supporting Healthy Communities of Henry County - through donation, sponsorship, volunteering and participating in our events,” information provided by HCHC said. “Directors meet every second Thursday of each month from noon-1 p.m. at Henry County Hospital. All meetings are open to the public, as we encourage and welcome attendance of our supporters.”
Upcoming HCHC events include: April-May - tree planting in Henry County; Saturday, April 12 - Earth Day Celebration and New Castle mini 10k and 5k (all at Henry County YMCA); Friday, May 16 - National Bike to Work Day; Saturday, June 7 - National Trails Day; Saturday, Sept. 27 - 14th Annual Raintree Ride (at Westwood Park); Wednesday, Oct. 8 - International Walk to School Day.
Phase I of the Wilbur Wright Trail is now Open!
Glorious day for New Castle'
14th Annual Raintree Ride was a Blast
The 14th annual Raintree Ride took place on Saturday September 28 and was supported by a 100 mile ride sponsored by the Raintree Cycling Club. It was a perfect day for a ride.
Healthy Communities of Henry County
100 S. Main St., Suite 102
PO Box 921
New Castle, IN 47362
Email - email@example.com
Calendar of Events
Healthy Communities of Henry County holds their monthly meetings on the second Tuesday of each month at 12:00p.m. in the Community Center conference room at 100S Main St., New Castle. Come and join us.
!5th Annual Raintree Ride, September 27, 2014
International Walk to School Day Oct. 9,
Healthy Communities Flyer
Proposed Map of Raintree Trails & Greenways
National Road Heritage Trail Brochure/Map
14 th Annual Raintree Ride Bicycling Event
A continued 'Thank You!'
to our generous sponsors:
Henry County Community Foundation
Henry County Memorial Hospital Foundation
Pfenninger, Claxton, & Estelle Insurance Group
South Henry Regional Waste District
Dr. Helen Steussy
Glen Oaks Health Campus
Henry County YMCA
Citizens State Bank
The Courier Times
Hinsey-Brown Funeral Service
Three Rivers SWMD
Atlas Collections, Inc.
Our Board of Directors
Chris Williams, President
JoAnne McCorkle, Vice President
Dennis Hamilton, Secretary
Jerry Cash, Treasurer
Healthy Communities and Economic Development
Mr. Bob Grewe, President and CEO of the New Castle-Henry County Economic Development Corp. recently spoke at the Healthy Communities annual board meeting, touting the work of Healthy Communities - particularly the recreational trails system development - as a great asset to Henry County. To view more of Mr. Grewe's presentation, please click here. To find out more about economic development in Henry County, please visit the NCHC EDC homepage!
Biking to Work is Good for you...Who Knew!
A recent article posted on "Excellence in Government" touts the numerous benefits of biking to work. Amazing! Read the article and get the infographic here: Health Benefits of Biking To Work