By Stan Ashbee
Sunny South News
According to a recent media release issued by Alberta Health Services (AHS), the Town of Coaldale is partnering with AHS on a pilot program designed to improve the well-being of town residents.
It was stated, Healthy Communities by Design provides municipalities with public health information and guidance — which may be used to design communities that better support healthy lifestyles.
Medical Officer of Health in the AHS South Zone Dr. Vivien Suttorp noted by partnering with AHS in this Healthy Communities initiative, the town shows a desire to look inward and make improvements. “Where they are needed to improve the overall health of the population.”
Health outcomes such as life expectancy, cancer rates and infant mortality rates often differ between geographies and also within communities, the doctor added.
“One of the best ways to decrease these differences is, first of all, to understand a community and what’s important to the people who live there: the culture, access to recreation and healthy food choices, education and more.” Through the program, it was explained in the media release, the town can harness the expertise of AHS health professionals, including dietitians, health promotion facilitators, public health inspectors and medical officers of health. “To assist with drafting or improving existing policies related to tobacco/alcohol reduction, healthy eating, sun safety, walkability and physical activity,” Suttorp pointed out.
There is no cost to the Town of Coaldale for participating, and the town is under no obligation to implement any suggestions coming from the pilot program.
People and their communities are closely linked, stated Taber-Warner MLA Grant Hunter. “Creating healthy communities can help shape the future of wellness in our province and empower all Albertans to live healthier lifestyles.”
About 100 Alberta communities have participated in the initiative since it began in 2016.
“Participation in this program will help bring more focus to the benefits of positive public health outcomes for Coaldale through incremental changes to policies and the built form,” stated Coaldale Director of Planning and Community Development Spencer Croil.
Partnering with AHS, Croil added, is just a natural next step to promoting community wellness in Coaldale. “We’re very excited to embark on this journey to strengthen our already targeted efforts on improving well-being and making Coaldale more livable for all members of the community.”