The Mayor’s Healthy City Initiative (MHCI) was founded by Mayor Holden with the purpose of identifying and coordinating efforts aimed at healthy living and an active lifestyle into a unifying commitment to better health. The initiative strives to build community capacity around the issues of population health, particularly our four priorities: childhood obesity, HIV/AIDS, mental health, and ER utilization. Our over 60 partner organizations are organized into three advisory boards. Healthy BR focuses on the issue of childhood obesity and includes partners focused on wellness, prevention, and food access such as the local parks, YMCA, farmers markets, the Redevelopment Authority, and the BR Food Bank. Med BR encompasses the clinical and treatment arm while the third advisory board, the Health Innovation Center, is the research arm. As we have over 60 partner organizations, there are numerous projects that fall under each of our four main priorities.
In the last year, we have experienced massive successes in our obesity priority. In the spring of 2012, a new health and wellness curriculum (5-2-1-0+10) based on research from the NIH and CDC, and infused with Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign, was piloted in four area elementary schools. Our testing indicated a total knowledge gain of 26% and a behavior change of 15%. Building on that success, we diversified and refined the curriculum for use in area summer camps run by the city and the YMCA. This fall, the curriculum will be instituted at every parish elementary school by the physical education teacher and the school nurse. Our vision is to make the messaging campaign ubiquitous throughout the city and it is currently in the major area hospitals, clinics, and wellness centers in addition to the schools and parks. In tandem with this new messaging, participation in the Healthy BR Restaurant program where participating restaurants, in return for technical assistance from local dieticians and nutritionists, craft healthy and nutritious kids’ menus, has more than doubled.
In the last year, we were also awarded a grant by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Louisiana Foundation and have sponsored five sub-grantees under the Fresh Beginnings program. Two of our sub-grantees, the Evlyn J. Daniel Foundation and Project Fit America, work in local elementary schools to increase the time and effectiveness of physical activity during the school day. BREADA operates a mobile farmers market that takes fresh produce to food deserts in north Baton Rouge. The market currently makes 3 stops per week with plans to increase to 4 by late September. Together Baton Rouge, a faith-based coalition, is chairing the city’s Food Access Policy Commission, studying our areas of poor access, national best practices, and making policy recommendations to the Metropolitan Council. Finally, the Redevelopment Authority is funding the Healthy Corner Store Initiative to put healthier options and more produce into corner stores in areas with low access through renovations and marketing.
RUN HAPPY: Exercise, and enjoy a refreshing reward
Cooking Matters, a nutrition and cooking-education program offered by Second Harvest Food Bank, offers low-income families and individuals the opportunity to learn how to cook healthy meals.
Last September, LiveWell Louisiana launched a movement to help Louisianans learn how to eat healthy and get fit.
The Arthritis Foundation seeks to raise awareness about the debilitating disease.