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Murfreesboro Communities, Students Recognized For Promoting Healthy Lifestyles

Thursday, December 07, 2006 | 06:00pm

Commissioner Kenneth S. Robinson, M.D., officials from the Community Wellness Council of Rutherford County, and local government officials gathered today to recognize several Murfreesboro neighborhoods and two groups of students for promoting healthy activities. Commissioner Robinson presented five public housing neighborhoods with the Active Living Neighborhood Award of Excellence in a ceremony at the Murfreesboro Housing Authority office. Each neighborhood has met stringent requirements set by the Active Living Neighborhood program. The award was established by the Rutherford County Wellness Council in 2005 to recognize developers who create opportunities for physical activity through neighborhood design by including amenities such as sidewalks, street trees, art and furniture, open spaces and recreational facilities. Franklin Heights, Highland Heights, Oakland Court, Mercury Court and Westbrooks Towers have all qualified for the award. Commissioner Robinson presented each neighborhood with a plaque to post at an entrance to signify the Active Living Neighborhood designation.

“I commend our partners on the Wellness Council and in the Rutherford County and Murfreesboro governments for recognizing the need to create environments that encourage physical activity and a healthy lifestyle, particularly in communities where such amenities are often lacking,” said Kenneth S. Robinson, M.D., Commissioner of Health. “The features that help these neighborhoods qualify for the Active Living award are important tools for addressing health disparities. I am pleased to present these neighborhoods with their awards, and I encourage their residents to take full advantage of the opportunities that surround them to increase their physical activity and improve their health.”

The Community Wellness Council of Rutherford County was established in response to a challenge from the Department of Health to communities to organize groups of volunteers at the local level to evaluate and improve the health and wellness of citizens in their areas. The focus of the Council’s Active Living Neighborhood program is to build an environment that includes all the things needed to promote an active lifestyle and better health.

“This is our attempt to address the epidemic of obesity by turning attention to the places where we live, work and play and how those areas affect public health,” said Bruce Duncan, charter member of the Community Wellness Council of Rutherford County and assistant vice president of National
HealthCare Corporation. “Over time, opportunities for physical activity have been engineered out of the American lifestyle. Our program finds a way to reintegrate health and physical activity back into daily life.”

Before the Active Living Award presentation, Commissioner Robinson paid a visit to Blackman Elementary’s “Better Me!” class. This group of fifth graders is learning to make healthier lifestyle choices.

“Our program emphasizes that students make the choice of what they eat and how physically active they are each day, not their parents,” says health educator Meri-Leigh Smith, who directs the “Better Me!” class. “We teach them to make healthy lifestyle choices that can impact their health throughout their lives.”

After the award presentation, Commissioner Robinson stopped by Oakland Court, one of the award-winning neighborhoods, to sit in on a “Project Go!” cooking class for youngsters who live in the neighborhood. This class is also led by Department of Health educators. Participants learn about proper nutrition and how to prepare their own healthy snacks. The visit also provided an opportunity to see the amenities for which Oakland Court was honored today, and to meet community residents.

“I like the health class because it teaches us what we should be eating and what types of food are bad for you,” said Chelsea McCawley, a sixth-grade student in the “Project Go!” program. “It teaches us about the food guide pyramid and how we can make our bodies stronger. I like the physical activities we do because they are fun and good for you. We have to keep our bodies moving.”

For more information about healthy lifestyle choices, visit the Department of Health Web site at http://www.tennessee.gov/health/itsabouttime/index.htm.

Press Releases | Health