Information courtesy of Amanda (Fine) Ryder JSI Research & Training Institute, Inc.
Leaders of the Framingham, Hudson and Marlborough Mass in Motion program, collectively known as MetroWest Moves, hosted a kickoff event Thursday with keynote speaker Mark Fenton, former host of the "America's Walking"
series on PBS television, to bring together community leaders to establish new
Mass in Motion (MiM) is a Massachusetts Department of Public Health program that aims to promote wellness and to prevent overweight and obesity in Massachusetts, with a focus on healthy eating and physical activity at home, at work, and in the community.
The MiM kickoff event was held at Marlborough Hospital. Fenton, a national public health, planning, and transportation consultant, spoke about how health, transportation, environment, land-use and economic development advocates can influence policies and investments to encourage communities to support
active living and healthy eating.
Fenton encouraged local leaders and stakeholders to “make a conscious decision to design environments where people can be physically active.” He said, "What we're really talking about is building physical activity back into our daily lives, but this only happens if you make it the new normal. These aren’t all million dollar improvements. Many times it’s about changing policies universally to create systemic change.”
Speakers stressed that what is unique about this initiative is the focus on policy and environmental strategies as opposed to traditional programmatic interventions to improve health. Martin Cohen, president and CEO of the MetroWest Health Foundation, commented “what is unique about the Community Transformation Grants is that they will result in lasting community-level policy change that will improve healthy eating and
active living for everyone.”
The leaders of MetroWest Moves will focus their efforts this year on increasing healthy beverage options in community vending machines, working with local restaurants to promote healthier dining options, and incorporating “complete street” standards into transportation planning to enable safe, attractive, and comfortable access and travel for all users.
Funding for this MiM program comes from the Middlesex Community Transformation Grant, awarded by Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the MetroWest Health Foundation. The Middlesex Community Transformation Grant is designed to help states and communities tackle the root causes of chronic disease. The Metropolitan Area Planning Council collaborated with the Department of Public Health to write the community transformation grant for Middlesex County.
The MiM program and the Community Transformation Grant look to address the issues of poor diet, lack of physical activity, and smoking with an additional focus on reducing health disparities among lower–income Americans, racial and ethnic minorities and other underserved populations.