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Foundation announces ‘beacon of hope’ communities

Thursday July 10, 2014
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The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation announced the six communities chosen as winners of this year’s RWJF Culture of Health Prize. The prize honors the efforts and accomplishments of communities that are “beacons of hope and progress for healthier people and families,” according to a news release. The winners were selected from more than 250 applicants from across the country.

“The RWJF Culture of Health Prize winners are leading some of the nation’s most innovative efforts to build a national Culture of Health,” Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, MBA, RWJF president and CEO,” said in a news release. “These communities are inspiring examples of what is possible when all sectors work together so that every resident has the opportunity to live a long and healthy life.”

The six prize-winning communities include:
• Brownsville, Texas — The community offers programs such as Tu Salud ˇSí Cuenta!, a communitywide campaign to address chronic disease prevention that includes mass media, free exercise and nutrition classes, and the support of bilingual community health workers. The city also has implemented a comprehensive smoke-free ordinance and a master hike and bike plan.

• Buncombe County, N.C. — The community’s initiatives include: the Community Navigator program, which helps families access needed health, social and community services; a partnership between local businesses and civic groups that is creating a safe space for fellowship and community building in the Shiloh neighborhood; and the Family Resource Center that provides food, clothes and resources to support families in times of need.

• Durham County, N.C. — Local clinicians offer low-cost treatment to the uninsured while others donate their time to improve access to specialty medical services, according to the release. The East Durham Children’s Initiative is one of numerous parent, family and child support programs that promote education among underserved populations.

• Spokane County, Wash. — County leaders used a series of steps, including skill-building training sessions for young students; a real-time early-warning system to monitor student attendance and grades; and targeted dropout prevention programs designed to raise the graduation rate to 79.5% in 2013 from 60% in 2006.

• Taos Pueblo, N.M. — Produce grown at the Red Willow Farms pay homage to the community’s agricultural roots and also support economic development, according to the release. The pueblo’s Public Health Nursing Department helps to address the health needs of the tribal community, and the community fitness program offers a variety of fitness classes for residents of all ages.

• Williamson, W.V. — A community garden built next to a low-income housing facility offers neighbors an opportunity to grow fruits and vegetables, while monthly 5K races and a lunch walk program challenge residents to make physical activity part of every day. Community health workers, serving as liaisons between doctors and patients, empower residents to live healthier lifestyles.

The RWJF Culture of Health Prize is awarded annually. Applications are being accepted for next year’s prize.

Learn more at www.countyhealthrankings.org/roadmaps/prize.


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