Spartanburg County was one of 50 communities nationwide chosen to participate in a two-year Healthiest Cities and Counties Challenge, now referred to as HealthyCommunity50 (HC50). The challenge is a joint initiative of the Aetna Foundation, the American Public Health Association, and the National Association of Counties to improve community health, with a vision of supporting communities in collaborative efforts to become healthier places to live, work, learn, play, and pray; recognizing excellence in achieving measureable impact; and identifying models of effective collaboration that can be sustained and replicated nationwide.
Communities that demonstrate the greatest health improvements will receive a cash prize to support future initiatives. There will be one $500,000 Grand Prize winner and four $50,000 Runners Up.
Spartanburg’s HC50 will increase physical activity through two initiatives:
The Healthy Schools Initiative is a four-year effort launched in August 2016 to work intensively with nine schools in Spartanburg County to create environments that encourage and support healthy eating and physical activity.
The Healthy Community Initiative is a new initiative that will encourage residents to be more physically active. Because of leadership provided by the Mayor of the Town of Pacolet, the Healthy Community Initiative will initially target municipal, city, and county governments, which can choose from a variety of programs: 1) quarterly walks with elected officials that will encourage physical activity and engagement with elected officials; 2) physical activity challenges that will be tracked by teams that each municipality can create; and 3) employer worksite wellness programs through a partnership with the SC Hospital Association. So far, seven municipalities have agreed to participate in this initiative.
Modeled after successful walks in 2016 with the Town of Pacolet’s Mayor, Michael Meissner, the HC50 Spartanburg team is organizing a series of quarterly walks in an additional eight communities in Spartanburg County as a way to encourage physical activity and community engagement with local elected officials. We held four Walk with Your Elected Official events in 2017: January 21, 2017, March 25, August 12, and October 14.
In 2018, we expanded the model to include co-hosts at each of the four quarterly walks. On February 18, we held the first walk of the year, which was co-hosted by elected officials and representatives from the police departments from each municipality. The next walk will take place on August 18 at 10 a.m. and will be co-hosted by elected officials and doctors.
In order to incentivize individuals to engage in more regular physical activity, as part of HC50, municipalities in Spartanburg will also have an opportunity to participate in physical activity challenges. Beginning in February, 2017, teams from each of the participating municipalities will compete for the most steps each month (tracked by ChallengeRunner). There will be three rounds, three months each (February – April, May – July, and August – October), culminating in a Finale in November, 2017. For each month, the team with the highest number of steps will receive a rotating award for the month. At the end of every three-month round, the team with the highest cumulative steps for all three months will be awarded a catered lunch. To participate in the November Finale, teams must have competed in two of the three rounds earlier in the year.
A program of the South Carolina Hospital Association, Working Well can help employers develop a strategic plan to impact employee health by focusing on policy, systems, and environmental changes. The goal of the program is to help employers create a sustainable culture of wellness around four key pillars by using effective, evidence-based best practices to create worksites where the healthy choice is the easy choice. The four key pillars include the following:
- Tobacco-free people and places,
- Delicious and affordable healthy food environments,
- Access and opportunity for physical activity throughout the workday, and
- Creating a culture of wellness.
Through the HC50 Challenge, municipalities that choose to participate in Working Well will have all fees waived during the duration of the initiative. For more information, please contact Emily O’Sullivan, email@example.com.