Kaiser Permanente Re-invests $6.2 Million to Promote Healthy Communities

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Posted: Tuesday, June 7, 2016 10:01 pm | Updated: 12:51 pm, Wed Jun 8, 2016.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- As adult obesity rates in California fail to show any significant decline, dozens of community-based organizations, advocacy groups, schools and others have redoubled their efforts to make their communities healthier, thanks in part to a recent $6.2 million investment by Kaiser Permanente, as part of its Healthy Eating Active Living Zones initiative.

An extension of a $7 million commitment in 2012, the new grant will expand and strengthen the existing HEAL interventions for five Southern California collaboratives: Anaheim Family YMCA, City of Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services, City of Ontario, Riverside Community Health Foundation and Community Health Improvement Partners in San Diego County. Additionally, the organization Community Partners in Los Angeles will receive a $1.2 million grant to provide peer learning and technical assistance to all sites.

HEAL Zones are targeted, underserved areas with high rates of obesity that can be transformed into neighborhoods where everyone has access to healthy food and safe, open spaces to exercise and play. Residents and youth from each community actively participate in their local collaboratives to identify and prioritize community changes to address together. Since the inception of the HEAL program in 2004, communities have seen increased physical activity opportunities, greater availability of healthy food, improvements to their local parks and a focus on safe places to walk.

"I’m inspired by the consistent level of advocacy that our HEAL Zone community partners have demonstrated to influence public safety, food, physical activity in Lemon Grove," said Dana Richardson vice president for community health and engagement, Community Health Improvement Partners in San Diego County. "They’ve learned to use their voice, and that is something that carries over … as they continue on their quest to make and keep their communities healthy."

In San Diego’s Lemon Grove HEAL Zone, community partners recently worked with their local city council to extend an existing joint use land agreement that provides access to safe, open recreational space in this park-poor region. Thanks to the agreement, community members will have access to a tennis court, basketball courts, a track field and more for at least five years.

"The council’s unanimous decision is a huge victory not only for the HEAL Zone committee, but for the health of the community," added Richardson.

Over the last few weeks, HEAL Zone partners across Southern California, including San Diego, celebrated their Zones’ awards at community events, celebrating successes from their existing work, such as building new playgrounds in local parks, creating accessible walking paths, and securing policy changes to give community members access to safe, open places to play and exercise.

"We are thrilled to receive this funding from Kaiser Permanente, which will allow our partners and resident leaders to make the healthy choice the social norm," said Javier Gonzalez, YMCA Healthy Communities Director at the Anaheim YMCA HEAL Zone check presentation. "From schools and parks to markets and public spaces, our partnership will continue its community transformation efforts to improve people’s health and long-term well-being."

Each HEAL Zone will also focus on three specific goals over the next three years:

  • Increase consumption of healthy food and beverages such as fresh fruits and vegetables and drinking water, and decrease calorie consumption, especially sugar-sweetened beverages
  • Increase physical activity
  • Improve prevention, treatment and management of obesity and its related conditions

The vision of the HEAL Zones is that at the end of the initiative, communities will be communities will be able to eat better and move more as part of daily life.

SOURCE: Kaiser Permanente

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