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Health Movement Making Big Changes in Hamilton County Communities

LH playground build

WeTHRIVE! is growing across Hamilton County, OH to create healthy communities. The movement focuses on implementing policy and environmental changes to make it easier for residents to make healthy choices.

What started with 50 people in three communities has grown to more than 112,000 people throughout 15 communities.

Hamilton County has a population of 800,000 people in 48 diverse political jurisdictions.  Hamilton County Public Health (HCPH) saw the need for sustainable changes to improve the lives of a population at risk for diabetes, health disease and stroke. With support from Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities, HCPH formed strategic partnerships with other organizations to develop WeTHRIVE!, a grassroots-level health movement designed to recruit communities to accept the challenge of reducing the childhood obesity epidemic.

From Assessment to Implementation 
The WeTHRIVE! initiative encourages partnership engagement and guides communities in assessing the environment, writing an implementation plan and completing strategic goals for policy changes. Working in partnership allows communities to have increased access to resources, ideas and potential collaborators.

WeTHRIVE! supports strategies such as shared-use agreements with schools or other agencies, Safe Routes to School programs, wellness policies in churches and childcare centers, and improvements that encourage physical activity like sidewalks and park equipment. WeTHRIVE! offers technical assistance to communities and provides sample wellness resolutions and model policies, with the goal of creating organic, community-centered initiatives.

Former Project Director Jaime Love says, “The biggest lesson for me is having the approach that communities really can decide for themselves as to what is best for them. They learn from us but we learn from them too.” The WeTHRIVE! movement continues to succeed because it focuses on partnering with communities, building relationships and empowering them to decide what will have the biggest impact.

Guiding Community Action 
An example of a community-specific approach is the transformation of an abandoned swimming pool in Northwood Park. The City of Norwood, a WeTHRIVE! community, recruited residents to help convert the pool area into a functional community garden. This initiative increases access to healthy options and raises awareness about the benefits of local produce.

With health policies already implemented and in progress, there is still more work to do. WeTHRIVE! continues to add communities with the goal of having all 48 jurisdictions in Hamilton County become a part of the movement.  For more information and to join the movement, visit www.WatchUsThrive.org.

October, 2013