NEW ORLEANS, LA – Today, Mayor Mitch Landrieu and City Health Commissioner Dr. Karen DeSalvo marked the one year anniversary of the City’s Fit NOLA partnership, a comprehensive plan to achieve healthy weight and fitness for all those who live, learn, work and play in New Orleans. Through Fit NOLA, New Orleans has set a goal of becoming one of the top ten fittest cities in the United States by 2018, the 300th anniversary of the city.
“I am excited about the successful inaugural year of Fit NOLA,” said Mayor Mitch Landrieu. “We have promoted healthier decisions and provided opportunities for more active lifestyles by building more parks, creating more bike lanes and providing more recreational opportunities for our youth . This is truly a comprehensive initiative and I look forward to seeing it grow and expand in line with our goal to make New Orleans one of the fittest cities in the country by our 300th birthday.”
“In the past year we have made great strides towards becoming a more nutritionally and physically fit city, and have been recognized by others for the innovative work we are doing,” said Dr. Karen DeSalvo, City Health Commissioner. “The Fit NOLA partnership has a lot to be proud of. From businesses and schools, to our recreation department and corporate sponsors, we have engaged our entire community to encourage healthier lifestyles.”
Over 140 public, private and non-profit organizations participate in the Fit NOLA partnership. Through this collective impact model, this cross sector partnership has worked to improve physical and nutritional fitness by increasing awareness, setting standards, and building capacity. The partnership has achieved major successes in its first year, with a few examples below:
New Orleans was among six communities across the country to receive an inaugural Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Roadmaps to Health Prize in February 2013. The prize was launched to further the work of the County Healthy Rankings & Roadmaps program, which aims to educate the public and policy-makers on the multiple factors that influence community health—such as education, economic conditions, and the physical environment—and to provide solutions that will improve community health.
Recipient of a Blue Cross Blue Shield grant to implement a comprehensive strategy to increase access to 3 underserved parks in New Orleans. This nearly $1 million grant, managed and administered by the Louisiana Public Health Institute and with partners such as Market Umbrella and the New Orleans Recreation Development Commission (NORDC), will focus on a fruit and vegetable prescription and physical activity prescription program.
Recipient of Partnership for a Healthier America and Blue Cross Blue Shield Play Streets Grant. The New Orleans Health Department (NOHD) received funding to sponsor several events this year focused on driving kids and families to playgrounds to do physical activities. NOHD’s first Play Streets event was done in conjunction with the Mayor’s NOLA for Life day in April, and the 2nd was done in conjunction with NORDC’s Global Youth Service day. At least two more events are planned for this Fall.
Fit NOLA has been recognized in Healthcare Journal of New Orleans, US News and World Report, discussed at Robert Wood Johnson Foundation conferences, United Healthcare and American Academy of Pediatrics forum, and HBO Weight of the Nation Screening.
Fit NOLA partners were featured at a City Council Health, Education and Social Services Committee meeting chaired by District B Councilmember LaToya Cantrell.
In June of 2012, Mayor Landrieu issued an Executive Order that developed a standard for healthier foods and beverages in the vending and concession options at City-owned parks and facilities.
12 Orleans Parish schools achieved a Gold Level of Distinction from the Healthier US School Challenge certification program through the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The Fit NOLA Business Sector drafted a “Fit Business” toolkit to help guide businesses in worksite wellness policies.
Early results of this work are demonstrated in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute’s annual release of their County Health Rankings. These rankings show the rank of the health of nearly every county in the nation. This year, Orleans Parish increased a significant 12 spots in the rankings.
For more information, please visit the New Orleans Health Department at http://www.nola.gov/RESIDENTS/Health-Department/ . The Fit NOLA Action Blueprint can be found here: http://new.nola.gov/nola/media/Health-Department/Healthy Lifestyles/Fit-NOLA_Book.pdf