New Year resolutions for a healthier Pittsfield in 2016

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It's a new year and people often set personal goals for improving their health. While we reflect on how to live by those resolutions, let's not forget to consider the environmental and social influences that do, and don't, support our efforts to make some positive lifestyle changes.

Do things around us have to change too in order to be successful? Is smoking permitted in your apartment building and sabotaging your attempts to quit smoking? Is your food environment at work making it hard to stay on track with healthy eating? Can you be an advocate to create a more healthful environment for all?

We are fortunate to have many health and human service agencies partnering in the critical work to improve our population's health. Our businesses, schools, faith communities, city government, law enforcement, community development, non-profit organizations and investors are engaged to achieve common goals.

Local strategies, like our tobacco policies, youth mentoring, enhanced referral systems between clinical services and community-based programs, Healthy Dining Program, weekly farmers markets, teen pregnancy and substance abuse prevention, are a few examples of how we're making Pittsfield stronger and more vibrant.

Although these resources are available and touch many residents, we see the not-met needs in neighborhoods and the challenges families face to access healthy food, get to appointments, locate services, maintain clean and healthy homes, etc. Reaching out to others to support their health or volunteering for these organizations to serve our neighbors is a gift we can give to another and our community.

For the new year, I encourage each of us to also make a resolution to influence improved health for others and our community.

Could you volunteer to support our community gardens that benefit local food pantries? Can property owners commit to making their apartment buildings smoke-free for healthier home environments? Can you walk your kids to school more often or make time to cook wholesome dinners with the kids once a week and inspire a love for cooking? Can you reach out to someone who is socially isolated or, dealing with depression or addiction to offer support? Can you ask a co-worker to take a walk break with you?

Together we can create a healthier Pittsfield.

The Healthy Pittsfield Partnership provides a venue for discussion on the challenges and opportunities Pittsfield has in supporting healthy lifestyles. Partners include community residents, business leaders, health and human service professionals, city officials and health advocates.

Committees within the HPP focus on initiatives to promote healthy eating, active living, mental well-being and tobacco-free living. We come together to share information, ideas, and to collaborate on initiatives that will make it easier for people to make healthy choices.

In 2015, partners coordinated the 10-week Mayor's Fitness Challenge campaign, published resource lists for healthy eating and active living, enhanced nutrition education offerings, evaluated our local system and strategized how to get more fresh produce to our food pantries, promoted utilization of our Morningside and Downtown walking loops, and volunteers did outreach on stress management.

We invite you to attend an upcoming meeting to share your ideas and to network. For more information, visit www.cityofpittsfield.org/HealthandWellness/HealthyPittsfield.

Gina Armstrong is the director of Public Health for the City of Pittsfield and chairman of the Healthy Pittsfield partnership.


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