Berlin Prioritizes Health and Wellness by Joining the HEAL Cities & Towns Campaign

Berlin Council approves resolution to partner with Institute for Public Health

Innovation to build a healthier community

 (June 15, 2015) The Town of Berlin announced the passage of a resolution to join the HEAL Cities & Towns Campaign for the Mid-Atlantic, which champions local government policies that improve access to healthy foods and physical activity in both small and large communities throughout Maryland and Virginia.

Currently, 64% of Maryland’s adults and one in three children suffer from obesity or overweight. According to a study completed last year, Maryland spent $3.032 billion treating diseases and conditions related to obesity in 2009.  HEAL – healthy eating and active living – Cities & Towns Campaign wants all Marylanders to live high quality, healthy lives, and the current rates of obesity and overweight threaten that goal. Overweight and obesity are among the leading risk factors for a number of chronic diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, and some types of cancer. HEAL policies set forth a framework to create a community where all people can make healthy choices to eat nutritious food and be physically active.

“Berlin recognizes the need to serve our citizens in unique and diverse ways and to provide the highest quality of life possible.  By becoming a HEAL Community, we hope to incorporate healthy eating and encourage active lifestyles into our projects and planning,”  ,” said Mayor Gee Williams “We are excited to provide this benefit to our citizens and look forward to working with the HEAL initiative to maximize the free resources that they offer toward this initiative. In the upcoming weeks we will be providing more information about specific initiatives we will implement under this program.”

As part of the HEAL Cities & Towns Campaign, the Institute for Public Health Innovation provides free training, support, and technical policy assistance to municipal leaders. This includes analyzing current policies that impact healthy living for citizens, suggesting ways to update such policies to increase access to HEAL, and updating administrative procedures to help make the healthy choice the easy choice for municipal employees. The HEAL Cities & Towns Campaign supports local elected officials to adopt policies that create healthy, prosperous communities.  A Healthy Eating Active Living City or Town is a municipality that sets forth a framework or vision to create a community where all people can make healthy choices to eat nutritious food and be physically active.

Berlin’s partnership with the HEAL Cities & Towns Campaign aligns with the Mayor and Council objectives, including increased walkability/bikeability throughout the Town and surrounding areas by working with partners in the local community and state and by encouraging thoughtful development, increased access to formal and informal fitness programs using our existing parks’ facilities, promotion of healthier eating at festivals and town events and through local food establishments’ voluntary participation, and by continuing to offer workplace wellness programs to Town employees.

“At the Institute for Public Health Innovation, we know that creating policies that address healthy living at a local level is critical to addressing the personal, collective, and economic impact of obesity in our region,” said Marisa Jones, director of the HEAL Cities & Towns Campaign for the Mid-Atlantic. “We’re confident we can make great headway by partnering with Berlin officials to benefit the lives of Berlin residents and employees.”

Participation in the HEAL Cities & Towns Campaign is free, thanks to support from the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Mid-Atlantic States. The HEAL Cities & Towns Campaign for the Mid-Atlantic is part of a growing national campaign that is currently taking place in California, Colorado, and Oregon. The Institute for Public Health Innovation embarked on this initiative in 2012 in strategic partnership with the Maryland & Virginia Municipal Leagues.

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About Berlin

America’s Coolest Small Town (Budget Travel, 2014) Berlin is home to approximately 4,500 and is located about eight miles from the beach community of Ocean City, MD.  Special events and festivals are featured year-round, from 2nd Friday Art Strolls and Music Festivals to celebrations of our heritage and our very own New Year’s Eve Ball Drop. Quiet neighborhoods, attractive parks, charming shops and a variety of excellent dining venues make Berlin a charming small town that is a delight to residents and visitors alike.

About the HEAL Cities & Towns Campaign for the Mid-Atlantic

The Healthy Eating Active Living  (HEAL) Cities & Towns Campaign provides free technical assistance and coaching to support municipal officials to adopt policies that improve their community’s physical activity and food environments. Supporting healthy choices is essential to address the obesity epidemic among Maryland and Virginia’s children and adults.

The HEAL Cities & Towns Campaign for the Mid-Atlantic is part of a growing national campaign that is currently taking place in California, Colorado, and Oregon. The Institute for Public Health Innovation embarked on this initiative with funding from Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Mid-Atlantic States and a strategic partnership with the Maryland & Virginia Municipal Leagues

For more information, visit www.healmidatlantic.org or contact Marisa Jones, director of the HEAL Cities & Towns Campaign for the Mid-Atlantic at 202-803-6121 or mjones@institutephi.org. Follow @HEALMidAtlantic on Twitter.

About the Institute for Public Health Innovation

The Institute for Public Health Innovation (IPHi) provides technical capacity, leverages resources, and facilitates collaboration across sectors to develop, implement, and evaluate effective strategies that improve health and quality of life in the DC, Maryland and Virginia region. IPHi is one of the newest institutes within the National Network of Public Health Institutes (NNPHI), an organization of 38 members throughout the United States and a growing aspect of the national public health infrastructure. To learn more about IPHi, visit www.institutephi.org.

For more information about the Institute for Public Health Innovation, visit www.institutephi.org like InstitutePHI on Facebook, and follow @institutephi on Twitter.

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