Surgeon General Launches Healthy Communities Website

Contact: T.J. Bucholz (517) 241-2112
Agency: Community Health

April 3, 2006

Dr. Kimberlydawn Wisdom, Michigan Surgeon General, visited Ypsilanti today to launch a new program designed to help communities implement policies and create healthy environments as part of the Michigan Steps Up Healthy Lifestyles campaign. Wisdom recognized several collaborative efforts within Washtenaw County that exemplify the idea behind this new program.

“If every community in our state made it easier for residents to be physically active, eat healthfully and live tobacco-free lifestyles, Michigan would be a healthier place to live,” Wisdom said.

During her visit, Wisdom called for collaboration within communities and involvement from community leaders to make policy and environmental changes that support physical activity and healthy eating and reduce tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke. She urged communities to utilize the new free resources available on the Michigan Steps Up Healthy Communities website at www.michiganstepsup.org.

True to the mission of Michigan Steps Up, communities within Washtenaw County have been successful in creating policy and environmental changes that help residents to be physically active, eat healthy, and live a tobacco-free lifestyle. Wisdom commended Washtenaw County Public Health officials for their leadership in these efforts.

“Community residents that are a part of the Washtenaw Steps Up projects are very excited to see visible results of their efforts,” said Ellen Clement, Director of Washtenaw County Public Health. “Environmental improvements ranging from urban trails, to bike racks, to walking maps are signs that real community change is under way that will support residents in leading healthier lives. Washtenaw County Public Health is proud to collaborate with the Washtenaw Steps Up Coalitions in making this happen.”

Wisdom joined county and city officials in a ribbon-cutting ceremony for new bike racks installed near Depot Town businesses and visited the Growing Hope youth garden and Riverside Park, which recently received funding to improve walkability in the park for all visitors. 

Wisdom also recognized several other programs within Washtenaw County that work tirelessly to protect and promote the health of the county’s youngest citizens, including Safe Kids-Washtenaw County; the Corner Teen Health Center; the Washtenaw Asthma Coalition; and the Washtenaw County Human Services Agency, Tobacco Reduction Coalition, and Board of Commissioners collaboration for a smoke-free community.

Although Washtenaw County was the focus of the day, many other counties throughout the state are working on policy and environmental change aimed at creating healthier environments for residents. Newaygo, Kalkaska, Missaukee, Washtenaw, Kalamazoo, Genesee, Ingham, Marquette, Ottawa, Delta and Menominee Counties are involved with projects protecting the health of youth, employees, and all community members through smoke-free work site and public places regulations and 24//7 tobacco-free school policies, school-based nutritional programs, Safe Routes to School audits, projects to increase awareness and consumption of fruits and vegetables, worksite wellness programs, and other programs that promote the benefits of a healthy lifestyle.

To learn more about the Michigan Steps Up Healthy Communities initiative, visit www.michiganstepsup.org and click on the Healthy Communities icon on the homepage.