Since 2009, the Healthy Communities Research Group – (GP RED) – and Indiana University, along with Indiana Parks and Recreation Association, Bloomington Parks and Recreation Department, GreenPlay, and Design Concepts,have been working together to develop and test the Healthy Communities Surveillance and Management Project. This project identifies and targets the community aspects that influence obesity and active living, specifically focusing on policies, funding, physical assets, programs and services that influence health and fitness levels of youth ages 10 – 14 years. This is the age where youth start to become independent in their lifestyle choices. Studies show that if a child is overweight or obese at this age, they are 80% likely to be overweight or obese as an adult, and 80% of those adults will produce overweight or obese children. If not addressed, this trend can drastically negatively impact the overall health and the economy in a community.
An initial “Alpha Site” project was successfully developed in Bloomington IN, and the methods are now being integrated and applied to ten “Beta Site” communities around Indiana and the country for additional refinement and implementation over the next three years. South Bend Parks and Recreation Department has been selected as the first of those Beta Sites. The Healthy Communities Project helps assess, analyze, document, and evaluate elements related to aligning parks and recreation as a catalyst for enhancing community health. Through working with South Bend partners and collaborators such as the County Health Department, schools, hospitals, businesses, non-profits and governmental programs, the process first creates analysis, and then moves to creating strategic concepts for improvement, future modeling and surveillance of outcomes over time. It also helps the City decide where to put funding to get the best effect.
In order to identify the needs and key providers of services for ages 10-14, Matt Moyers, Special Projects Coordinator for the South Bend Parks Department is asking for help from active citizens. Moyers said “We are facilitating a series of focus group meetings with community leaders and residents. Because we value their opinion, we are inviting them to participate in one of these focus groups.”
The meetings will consist of approximately 10 to 15 participants and may last up to 90 minutes. The team will ask participants a variety of questions to assess health and needs of the community, and issues that should be addressed in the project. With a focus group, there are never wrong answers, so everybody is encouraged to be open and freely express their thoughts. Participants do not need to be residents of the city. To accommodate busy schedules, a variety of meeting times are available.
- Tuesday (23rd)
- 1:30 – 3:00 Focus/Intro meeting: with Educators/Other Service Providers
- 6:00 – 7:30 Focus/Intro meeting: Community-Wide Public Meeting
- Wednesday (24th)
- 10:00 – 11:30 Focus/Introduction meeting: with Governmental/Business
- 2:03-3:30 Focus/Introduction meeting: Health Care Providers
Moyers asked that participants call him at South Bend Parks and Recreation at 299-4765 ext 248 to reserve a time slot. He added “We thank you in advance for participating in our Healthy Communities process. Your input will help guide the future of South Bend – improving the health and obesity levels in our community for generations to come.”