When the Capital Area Wellness Coalition was formed in 2009, it had a pretty broad mission: to coordinate community resources and builds partnerships to create a culture of healthy living for everyone.
It was a great place to start, but for a volunteer group that met once a month, the idea was a bit overwhelming. Over the years, the coalition organized events and produced initiatives.
Then a couple years ago, the coalition became a work group for the Capital Area Public Health Network, under the umbrella of the Granite United Way.
The United Way had identified eight public health risks to the area and asked the wellness coalition if they could work on the issue of obesity.
“It was one of the things that came up within their areas to address,” said Valerie Ferland, who leads the group. “So we’re trying to impact a major issue in our community.”
It helped narrow the group’s focus and has allowed them to really start to make a difference.
“It was something our coalition could get behind and help,” Ferland said.
Partnering with the Concord School District, childcare facilities, after school programs, healthcare organizations and community agencies, the wellness coalition has implemented the 5-2-1-0 Healthy NH program.
The best way to fight obesity is to prevent it from happening at an early age, which is why working with the schools is such an important step.
5-2-1-0 stands for: 5 or more fruits and veggies, 2 hours or less of recreational screen time, 1 hour of physical activity and 0 sugar-sweetend beverages. And that’s every day.
“We wanted to make it more educational,” Ferland said. “And Concord School District has opened the doors for us to do this.”
While it’s crucial to teach kids those healthy habits, it’s also vital for parents and caregivers to be on board with the program, so that’s why the wellness coalition would love to be involved with more businesses and organizations.
“That way we can connect with more adults,” Ferland said.
They recently received funding for a position that will help with outreach for the next year.
Another piece of what the coalition does is centered around active living. With participants from the Central N.H. Bike Coalition, the Concord YMCA and the American Heart Association, the being active part is a big piece of what they want to do.
“It’s about taking what people do for their work and capitalizing on it,” Ferland said.
Last year, the coalition developed the Concord Trail Passport, highlighting all 31 trails within the city.
For those who choose to accept the challenge, grab a passport and hike at least 20 of the 31 trails and you’ll receive a discount card good at multiple local retailers. They’re also working on something for National Bike to Work Week in May, so stay tuned.
The coalition also has members from Concord Hospital, the Concord Regional VNA, UNH Cooperative Extension, several departments within the city, the Penacook Community Center and the United Way.
“We’re still kind of a work in progress, but we’re making headway,” Ferland said.
Currently, the coalition is accepting nominations of organizations, businesses, school agencies, volunteer groups and individuals for its 4th annual Capital Area Well Done Awards. Nominations will be accepted through March 30.
The wellness coalition meets at the Center for Health Promotion, 49 S. Main St., Suite 201, on the second Wednesday of each month, from 8 to 9:30 a.m. To find out more, contact Ferland at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 230-7311.
For more information, visit capwellness.org.