In 2007, Lancaster General Health brought together a group of schools, businesses, and health and wellness organizations to address a growing public health crisis that had been largely overlooked: obesity.
Today, the Lighten Up Lancaster County Coalition has grown to over 1,500 members working together to build a community that encourages physical activity and healthy eating.
To fight what health professionals soon saw as an obesity epidemic, the Lighten Up Lancaster County Coalition quickly focused on spreading the word about the importance of a nutritious diet and an active lifestyle. Local recreation centers created special physical activity programs and coalition members published a series of healthy cookbooks called Lancaster on the Move.
Over time, coalition partners recognized the need to move beyond awareness and education. In 2012, LG Health was awarded a Community Transformation Grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that allowed coalition members to devise programs that supported fundamental healthy lifestyle principles, including:
- To have a physically active community – it’s important to have safe streets for bicycling and walking
- To have healthy children – schools must offer healthy meals and incorporate physical activity into the school day
- To have healthy and productive employees – workplaces can offer incentives for workers to exercise
To address these opportunities, coalition partners formed three working groups to focus on environmental changes:
- A School & Community Gardens workgroup
- A Well Workplace workgroup
- An Active Transportation workgroup
These groups continue today, sharing and helping to implement best practices for healthy communities.
This year, the Lighten Up Lancaster County Coalition awarded Well Workplace Awards to 28 businesses with comprehensive workplace wellness programs, helped build four new community and school gardens, helped the Lancaster County Planning Commission develop a health-conscious new comprehensive county plan, and created a new community walking route and group in Southwest Lancaster City. Coalition partners have worked together to create new school wellness policies, create healthier food pantries for people in need, install bike racks and bike repair stations, and plan for a new Lancaster City Bike Share program.
Over the next 10 years, LG Health and Lighten Up Lancaster County Coalition partners will continue to work towards our vision of a healthy community where everyone has access to healthy, affordable foods and safe spaces to be active.
For more information the Lighten Up Lancaster County Coalition, visit http://www.lightenuplancaster.org/.