Ellenville, NY- County Executive Mike Hein, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ulster County (CCEUC) Executive Director Lydia M. Reidy and Ulster County Public Health Director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck were in Ellenville today to outline details of the recent $1.01 million grant award for the Creating Healthy Places to Live, Work and Play (CHP) initiative. The goal of the initiative is to fight obesity and type 2 diabetes in Ulster County, with an initial focus on the three locations, including the greater Ellenville community.
County Executive Hein said, "This partnership with Ulster County Cornell Cooperative Extension is focused on improving overall public health in Ulster County. Obesity related diseases are often preventable and cost taxpayers an estimated $8 billion dollars annually in New York. We can begin to contain those health care costs and take additional steps toward achieving our goal of making Ulster the healthiest county in the State by tackling this problem head on. This initiative takes an exciting and innovative approach that we expect will produce tangible results for the residents of Ellenville and Ulster County."
Dr. Hasbrouck pointed out some of the health consequences of the obesity epidemic when he said "Obesity is a leading cause of chronic disease and disability and for the first time in our nation’s history, obesity may cause our children and future generations to be less healthy and experience shorter life spans than ourselves. Statistics indicate that over 60% of adults and over 40% of
children and adolescents in New York are either overweight or obese and Ulster County is no exception. We must do better and this initiative is a positive step forward."
"The traditional approach of educating our populace has shown limited effectiveness," says Lydia Reidy, Executive Director of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ulster County. "The rates of obesity, in both children and adults, have continued to trend upward over the last four decades despite best efforts to teach individuals appropriate behaviors to keep themselves healthy. This project will allow us to more precisely target our education efforts while changing the parameters of the field in which residents live, work and play."
"The juxtaposition of CCEUC’s Healthy Kingston for Kids project with this initiative will act synergistically, not only expanding and enhancing project reach and impact, but cross-fertilizing lessons learned to improve outcomes for both programs," explains Mary Marsters, Director of Programs with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ulster County. "Moreover, applying a measure of sharpshooting education while clearly structuring the environment will result in behavioral changes toward more healthy living options."
The CHP initiative is structured to effectuate policy, environmental and systems changes designed to improve the health and fitness of Ulster County residents. The underlying approach runs counter to traditional education methods which attempt to persuade individuals to adopt personal lifestyle changes. For many people, such changes can be difficult to achieve because of lack of access to healthy foods and recreational opportunities and thus have been less effective in slowing the rate of obesity. The CHP initiative will attempt to improve outcomes by enhancing access and implementing preventive health measures in local neighborhoods and communities, such as:
- Developing and launching community initiatives to get residents to walk and bike more within safe streetscape environments;
- Supporting the proliferation of community gardens;
- Making it easier for residents to use parks via improved signage and online resources;
- Increasing healthy snacking and physical activity and decreasing screen time in for youth in day and after school care centers;
- Working with restaurants and eateries to step-up efforts in posting nutrition information;
- Launching mobile farmers markets to reach communities with less access to fresh produce;
- Launching a county-wide media campaign focused on healthier food choices and portion sizes on restaurant menus, including greater access to nutritional information;
- Working with the media to educate residents about obesity and Type 2 diabetes prevention; and
- Engaging county and community leadership to actively participate in and advocate for the project.
The initial target areas for this initiative are the communities of Ellenville, Phoenicia and the City of Kingston and successful practices are expected to be rolled out to other municipalities throughout Ulster County in successive years. The Co-lead agencies for this initiate are Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ulster County and the Ulster County Department of Health. Key partners include the Community Heart Health Coalition of Ulster County, City of Kingston Parks and Recreation Department, Kingston Land Trust, Gilmour Planning and Healthy Kingston for Kids.
For further details, please cont
act Arthur Zaczkiewicz, Interim CHP Coordinator at 845-340-3990 ext. 334 or email aaz25[at]cornel[dot]edu.