The Florida Department of Health recently recognized 37 communities - four of them in Pinellas County - as Healthy Weight Community Champions.
The cities of Clearwater, Largo, Pinellas Park and St. Petersburg will be honored with certificates signed by State Surgeon General and Secretary of Health John A. Armstrong, MD, FACS.
The certificates will be presented at public meetings with personalized Healthy Weight graphics that can be used in city documents and promotional items. A full list of the Champion Communities and best practices are at www.HealthiestWeightFL.com.
Between November 2013 and February 2014, local governments were invited to submit best practice policies they have implemented to promote physical activity and improve nutrition in their jurisdictions. These best practice policies are exemplified by the Healthy Weight Community Champions.
This is a brief selection of the best practices submitted by cities in Pinellas:
• Some of Clearwater's bike and walking trails lead to produce stands, supermarkets or farmers' market, including its Wednesday Farmer's Market downtown.
• Largo's free Playing Unplugged regional event at Largo Central Park provides 10 play spaces for families to explore, build and create.
• Pinellas Park's Community Garden offers raised garden boxes to residents for a minimal free as a way to make fresh produce easier to grow.
• St. Petersburg has 35 miles of trails for recreation and it has markedly improved the time required to repair sidewalks and trails
"Efforts to improve health are often most effective at the local level and the department wants to recognize the outstanding progress made by these communities to promote healthy weight," Armstrong said in a press release. "The commitment of these municipalities and counties affect nearly 9.4 million Floridians and help further statewide collaborative efforts to make Florida the healthiest state in the nation."
The Community Champions program is part of the department's Healthiest Weight Florida initiative. Healthiest Weight Florida is a public-private collaboration bringing together state agencies, local governments, not-for-profit organizations, businesses, schools, faith-based organizations and entire communities to help Florida's children and adults make consistent, informed choices about healthy eating and active living.