5W Wednesday: 5 Healthy Towns

Our 5W Wednesday series highlights a variety of health care organizations, professionals and programs that keep our community healthy.

What is 5 Healthy Towns?
5 Healthy Towns is a project of the Chelsea-Area Wellness Foundation (CWF).  The goal is to create a culture that makes it easier for people to make healthy choices.  Each of five towns is developing their own comprehensive wellness plan for the entire community.  This replaces past efforts by individual organizations to take on wellness issues, alone.  Stanford Social Innovation Review calls it “Collective Impact”.

Why is this program needed?
Everyone knows the statistics about overweight & obesity in our nation.  Did you know rural Americans are at greater risk than urban Americans?  The 5 Healthy Towns are rural & semi-rural with a collection of issues that make it difficult to eat better and move more.  Much of the population lives where there are no sidewalks and where it’s not reasonable to walk to the post office or library.  Kids may not have neighbors with kids which discourages active play.  There is not always a local grocery store & if there is, shopping requires a car ride.  But rural & semi-rural communities have one thing going for them.  They know each other & care about each other; so they can work together.

Where are the 5 Healthy Towns?
The 5 Healthy Towns are Chelsea, Dexter, Grass Lake, Manchester & Stockbridge.  We’re located in 5 counties, but primarily western Washtenaw County.  Data tell us residents of western Washtenaw are more likely to be overweight than the rest of the county.

Who is involved?
Each of the 5 towns has a Wellness Coalition made up of representatives from as many demographic groups as they can get to the table (seniors, youth, government, schools, faith, business, health care, service organizations, interested citizens…).  Together they are looking at data and assessing what resources exist and where needs are greatest.  Armed with that information they will develop one Comprehensive Wellness Plan for the entire town.  Once the plan is developed they will seek funding from the CWF and other funders.

When will 5 Healthy Towns take place?
The 5 Healthy Towns project began in fall of 2010.  We anticipate completion of the first community’s Comprehensive Wellness Plan by the end of 2011.  We’re all in this for the long-haul so ‘when’ stretches out forever!

Follow 5 Healthy Towns’ progress!

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