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Sara Herold
Monroe County YMCA

Tracy James
University Communications

Last modified: Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Partnerships to ACHIEVE healthier communities in Monroe County announced

April 14, 2010

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- ACHIEVE, a federally funded program geared toward helping communties prevent chronic diseases, has been launched in Monroe County, making it just one of 43 program applications accepted nationwide out of 400 applicants.

Spearheaded by the Monroe County YMCA nearly a year ago and joined by Bloomington Parks and Recreation and the Active Living Coalition, the effort involves many representatives of various organizations and community segments, including schools, industry and local and state government, who participate on ACHIEVE's Community Health and Action Response Team (CHART).

Indiana University Bloomington is part of this community health effort, with Karen Hanson, provost and executive vice president of IU Bloomington, speaking earlier this month at the kick-off event, and health experts such as Lloyd Kolbe, associate dean of IU's School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, and James Laughlin, a pediatrician and professor at the IU School of Medicine, serving on CHART.

The program is supported by a three-year, $57,000 grant from the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the following sponsoring agencies: the National Association of County and City Health Officials, the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors, the National Recreation and Park Association and the YMCA of the USA.

"The goals of the CDC's ACHIEVE grants are to establish policies, environments and systems that can improve population health," said Kolbe, founding director of the CDC's Division of Adolescent and School Health before joining IU. "The Bloomington and Monroe County grant could be unique because IU Bloomington employs extraordinary faculty throughout a wide range of its schools, including the School of HPER, SPEA, business, law, and many more, who could work as part their academic and civic missions collaboratively with city and county leaders to achieve these goals."

CHART member and State Rep. Peggy Welch said at the kick-off event that the community is part of a national movement.

"This is about how we can be the best and healthiest community we can be," she said.

ACHIEVE is about changing the way decisions are made where people live, work, learn and play, and improving the community's health across all sectors. The CHART team has drafted a community action plan based on an assessment of five sectors of the community -- schools, work sites, health care, community institutions/organizations (senior centers and faith-based organizations, for example), and the community at large (community-wide efforts such as smoking bans, bikeability and personal safety, for example). The draft includes strategies involving policy, environmental and system changes. While there are many examples of health-related programs and policies in the Monroe County community, not all are readily available to all community members.

Speakers at the kick-off event included Joey Vrazel, assistant commissioner for the Health and Human Services Commission at the Indiana State Department of Health. She thanked everyone in attenance for supporting the effort.

"The time has come. The challenge is on. We have to show that prevention can work," she said.

Hanson closed the event with words of support and expressed the need for improved health in the local communities. She noted that the transformation of the School of HPER into a School of Public Health will expand the health mission of Indiana University.

"We (IU) are committed to working side-by-side with the rest of the community on this effort," she said.

To find out more about ACHIEVE or other ACHIEVE communities, visit