Members of the Live Fit Tooele County Coalition have been busy working on a variety of projects that will promote healthy living throughout the county over the next year.
Malaena Toohey, health educator and obesity prevention coordinator for the Tooele County Health Department, and chair of the Live Fit Tooele County Coalition, said the Live Fit Tooele County website, www.livefittc.org, continually has new information. In the last few weeks, before and after school activities, free exercise resources, new recipes and new articles on health have been added.
In addition to the new information, the coalition has launched a monthly contest on its website. The contest, called the “One Simple Step Challenge,” asks participants to commit to one health improvement each week for a month.
Participants must report how well they did on completing their goal at the end of each week. With each weekly goal completed, their name will be entered into a monthly drawing. Toohey said at the end of each month, 10 winners will be chosen and will receive a small prize.
Another step the coalition has taken to decrease obesity is partnering with local doctors’ offices to provide education about healthy body mass indexes.
“We came up with prescription pad-looking [note paper] for medical assistants or nurses — whoever checks patients in and takes their height and weight — to take that information down, rip it off and give it to the patient before they go to the exam room and wait for the doctor to come in,” Toohey said. “There are posters hanging in each [exam room] that people can use to find their BMI,” she added, “and the paper they get gives them tips on how to lower their BMI and daily goals they can set.”
Toohey said she also recently submitted a report to the Utah Department of Health that outlines some of the goals and projects the Tooele County Health Department and the Live Fit coalition will work on over the next year to decrease obesity.
“The state is wanting us to go toward evidence-based and research-based strategies that make changes to communities as far as obesity goes,” she said. “During March we will be writing for grants to assist with our projects.”
Throughout next year, the health department will focus on two large projects and several smaller ones. When it comes to nutrition, the large project will be to create a campaign that works with local convenience stores to help them have more healthy options available, Toohey said.
Smaller nutrition projects include working with local grocery stores to move fruit and vegetable stands closer to checkouts and to create a “Take Half To Go” campaign. The campaign involves making stickers that can be put on every to-go container at local restaurant that include the Live Fit logo and the phrase “Take Half To Go.”
“This will educate people that portion sizes are way out of control these days,” Toohey said. “We want to encourage people to take half home for another meal.”
Other nutrition projects include working with local chefs and media to make and publish recipes featured on the Live Fit website; providing students with more education about the foods they’re eating from vending machines; and coming up with a way to keep kids from wasting fruits and vegetables they’re served during lunch at school.
“We just have to think outside the box,” Toohey said. “One example is to not serve a whole kiwi, but slice it in half and teach kids how to eat it with a spoon.”
When it comes to physical activity, the large project the health department and coalition will work on is writing a grant to increase opportunities for indoor, low-cost physical activity and to enhance infrastructure that supports walking.
“We want to try to get funding to get more continuous sidewalks throughout the county so people can walk in a safe zone,” Toohey said.
Additional, smaller projects include having community walks where streets are closed off by police and families walk up and down them together; working with schools to find healthy activities for indoor recesses; promoting walking and biking to school with a Walk to School Wednesdays campaign; and promoting before and after school physical fitness activities for students.
The last major project the coalition has been working on is a kickoff event to promote its website. The event will be held May 18 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Deseret Peak Complex.
There will be a variety of healthy stations that people of all ages can visit. The more stations they visit, the better their chances are of winning a prize. Prizes for the kick-off event will be sponsored by local businesses.
Some of the stations that will be at the event include a bounce house, climbing wall, hand-washing station, sit-and-be-fit station, body fat testing station, cooking demonstrations and healthy food vendors. There will also be a press conference with speakers at the beginning of the event. The speakers have not yet been determined.
There will also be a variety of different bands playing at the event. Toohey said no chairs will be set up so that families can dance while listening to the music. The bands include Tooele High School’s marching band and the Sunset Concert Series.
Overall, the coalition hopes to increase county residents’ desire to lose weight and live healthier lifestyles.
“All of the things we have planned are simple steps that are easy to complete,” Toohey said. “I think we can have a lot of fun over the course of the next year implementing these projects [and events].”