For more information on Healthy Central Florida, and how you can make the pledge toward living a healthier lifestyle, visit healthycentralflorida.org. To find healthy living events, classes and services in your neighborhood, visit findactivefun.org
• Don’t fear failure.
• Eat more whole, natural foods from the ground.
• Eat less ‘white foods’ like white sugar and flour.
• Get more sleep, and stress less.
• The measurement of your waist should never be larger than half of your height.
• Fulfill the moral obligation of taking care of yourself, do it for you and your loved ones: “If someone you love was putting in their body what you are putting into your body, what would you tell them?”
Florida Hospital and the Winter Park Health Foundation have partnered up with three local communities — and one well-known television doctor — to launch an initiative to make Central Florida a healthier place to live.
Healthy Central Florida (HCF), a community-based partnership starting in Winter Park, Maitland and Eatonville, aims to make Central Florida the healthiest community in the nation, said Executive Director Jill Hamilton Buss.
The initiative, which had its formal launch Monday, Feb. 6, with a presentation at Full Sail University by Dr. Mehmet Oz, host of the daytime medical talk show, “The Dr. Oz Show”, focuses on getting people more active, eating healthier and more connected to their communities.
“We have to figure out ways to reengineer movement and activity back into our lives as we live them — at school, at work, church and in your neighborhood — we want to make the healthy choice the easy choice in all settings,” Buss said.
With help from Florida Hospital, the Winter Park Health Foundation and the mayors of each of the flagship communities, HCF aims to promote long-lasting environmental policy and social change to make Central Florida a healthier place to live, work and play, Buss said.
Linking the community
For two years, the Winter Park Health Foundation had been searching for community partners to start up an initiative focused on more healthy living practices in Central Florida, when they found Florida Hospital, said Patty Maddox, president and CEO of the Winter Park Health Foundation.
“We started thinking about different things we could do to help a greater number of people than with just the different programs we were doing…” Maddox said. “We realized we wanted to do something that would look at the health of the greater community as a whole.”
At Florida Hospital, Executive Vice President Brian Paradis said they too had been looking for more ways to get involved in the community and fulfilling their mission of not only caring for people in need, but also nurturing the community as a whole to reach its highest health potential — hoping to help them before they need care from the hospital.
“We want to help people better perform and to be able to live a better life,” Paradis said. “We need to better help our community compete in a global world, and we think health is a big piece of that.”
In a world of widening waistbands and portion sizes, and lessening physical activity, Paradis said we’re leading our children down a long, costly road of unhealthy living.
“The legacy we’re about to leave our children is a life expectancy shorter than our own, which is an unprecedented event in modern history,” he said. “We need to change that before it happens.”
The two organizations came together to form Healthy Central Florida, Buss said, so that they can make a change before its too late.
“What we need to do is create more environmental cues and supports that help people maintain healthy behaviors,” Buss said. Whether that is by putting parks in more places, adding more bike lanes to roads, or changing food options at school, work and home to healthier ones, she said, “Small change and small steps add up.”
Through a statistically significant survey put out to each targeted community, with help from the University of Central Florida, Buss said HCF is working to identify specific health needs and wants of each city to help better organize future policy change — with the hope of eventually moving the program on to all of Central Florida.
“We decided we wanted to start small and be very focused…” she said. “This is about behavior change, and we really needed to roll up our sleeves to get this started. To be serious and focused, we needed to be focused geographically.”
Cities get fit
Each of the three targeted cities’ mayors have gotten involved with helping move the initiative along — including passing smoking ban resolutions for local parks and “complete street” resolutions for making future streets more pedestrian and cyclist friendly, to working to offer healthier food choices in public facilities.
“The health of our citizens is probably the most important thing that we deal with on a day-to-day basis,” Winter Park Mayor Ken Bradley said. “Health is the base foundation of everything we bring to our community.”
Mayor Howard Schiferdecker of Maitland said he hopes to use the initiative to build not only healthy life lessons to citizens, but also a sense of honorable character in that they do the right thing and make the right choices in all aspects of their lives.
“When you don’t feel good about yourself, you don’t operate at your peak,” he said. “We want people to be living their lives in the best ways that they can, and these things are all part of it.”
Buss said the communities have all done a great job in spurring interest in the initiative in their communities, and hope to work more closely with them as their work continues to make Central Florida the healthiest community it can be.
“We’re all building this together,” she said. “This is just the beginning.”