Recently I had the great pleasure of gathering together with nearly 200 community partners and organizations from across the Commonwealth for the 2014 Mass in Motion Action Institute. The annual Action Institute is hosted by DPH and is an opportunity for Mass in Motion programs and their communities, stakeholders, and key decision makers to strategize around ways to boost healthy eating and active living in their communities.
A highlight for me was the opportunity to moderate a panel with New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell and Holyoke Major Alex Morse. Mayor Mitchell and Mayor Morse have been an integral part of their communities’ Mass in Motion efforts and successes and have played a major role in the creating healthier environments for their community members. Holyoke has received national attention for its success in supporting and promoting active living by using healthy design standards and reducing crime. New Bedford has made incredible progress in the areas of built environment and working with the City’s youth and schools to create opportunities for children to make healthy choices.
Talking with the mayors, it became clear that there is a need to have high-level local public officials involved in the process of environmental change, something we have always encouraged through Mass in Motion. The examples the mayors gave showed how the work can be done, and it was inspiring to see how they have contributed to creating a healthier environment in their cities.
Workshops during the day gave participants the opportunity to learn about what is happening in communities throughout Massachusetts. The workshops covered a wide variety of topics, including joint use agreements, safe routes to school, healthy aging, school nutrition, active streets, and access to healthy foods. A special workshop and great energy breaks by Playworks highlighted the importance and power of play for all ages.
David Watson, the Executive Director for MassBike, spoke briefly about the importance of designing communities that support biking as a way of everyday commuting. The day wrapped up with a presentation from Monte Roulier, co-founder and president of Community Initiatives, who encouraged attendees to focus on forming strong partnerships within the community in order to create long-lasting policies that support physical activity and healthy eating.
It was inspiring to be with such dedicated partners, and encouraging to see the progress we are making in the fight against obesity!
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