In the face of rising rates of obesity and growing prevalence of diabetes and other related chronic illnesses, public health efforts are being directed to reduction of risk factors for chronic illness at the national. State and local levels. Through CDC “1422” grant funds, PHS has been able to expand efforts to help communities reduce the risk factors for chronic illness and to increase the means of reducing the onset of chronic illness. This includes increasing options for exercise, improving access to fruits and vegetables and increasing screening to find untreated illness.

In addition, PHS has been working with key community members and leaders to help transform the community environment to support and sustain health behavior change. Data collection and analysis to identify areas of need was an integral and essential function throughout the year’s objectives. As a result, key transformations taking place include creating communities where walking and biking are safe and encouraged, providing lifestyle change programs with built-in support systems, and working with partners to increase healthy food and drink options in vending machines, convenience stores, and grocery stores throughout the community.

smart movesThe Smart Moves Initiative encompasses programs aimed at increasing physical activity through encouraging and empowering communities to become more walkable and bike friendly and improving access to healthy nutrition. PHS has been working with the City of Hebron to provide community members with a safer and more welcoming environment for participating in walking and biking activities. Hebron has identified key community members who are passionate about increasing physical activity. They are hosting a community-wide Walkability Summit on Sunday, November 8, 2015 to ensure the community’s voice is heard in this exciting opportunity. To this point, key stakeholders in the community have identified inadequate sidewalks and road crossings and an incomplete trail system as barriers to walking and biking in Hebron. They have also identified many exciting possibilities for overcoming these barriers, which will be discussed and decided upon at the Walk Hebron Summit.

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PHS also is working in Beatrice with Gage County M.A.P.S., Big Blue Bike Club, League Certified Instructors through League of American Bicyclists, Lincoln Elementary, Southeast Community College and Blue Cross Blue Shield to establish BIKE depots and programs to encourage biking as a strong transportation option.