This press release published at the request of the Florida Department of Health in Alachua County.
Florida’s county and municipal governments play an important role in improving the health of all communities and people. Local governments have implemented a variety of policies that have been shown to increase physical activity and improve nutrition. Between June and August 2019, local governments were invited to submit best practices to demonstrate how they met the Healthy Community Champion criteria.
“This recognition demonstrates the commitment that these communities have to improving the health of their residents,” stated Florida Department of Health in Alachua County Administrator Paul Myers. “Their efforts to implement policies for residents to improve health are an important part of creating healthy environments throughout Alachua County.”
The Healthy Community Champions provides an opportunity to highlight local governments that have focused on improving the built environment. The department defines the Built Environment as the places where people live, work, and play (homes, buildings, streets, open spaces, and infrastructure), food environments (supermarkets, corner stores, farmer’s markets, and food pantries), and other environmental influences (indoor/outdoor air and water quality, noise pollution, and environmental toxins).
The built environment can influence residents’ physical, nutritional, and mental health within their community through policies designed to provide adequate access to physical activity opportunities, adequate access to healthy, affordable, and culturally appropriate foods, access to health care and a reduction or elimination of environmental health risks to the community. Through communities working to implement policies within the built environment, a greater level of social connectedness can be experienced. As defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, social connectedness is achieved through strong formal relationships between organizations and support services designed to help better ensure that services are delivered and promote a person’s sense of well-being.