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LiveWell Springfield: A Movement for Healthy Living

LIVE WELL SPRINGFIELD LOGO 

SPRINGFIELD, Mass (WGGB) — There’s an effort underway in Springfield to get the people who live and work here to eat and live healthier. It’s called LiveWell Springfield.    

Its goal is to not only change habits, but to change policies across the city.

LiveWell Springfield was created in 2012 by Partners for a Healthier Community and the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, with a goal is to increase daily access for everyone to opportunities for physical activity and healthy eating and also make Springfield a regional destination for healthy living.

Jessica Collins with Partners for a Healthy Community says LiveWell Springfield involves every sector of the community.

“We have people from city  departments, we have people from the private sector, the non-profit sector. We have regional groups and state groups working with us to really understand and change policies at the city level as well as infrastructure at the neighborhood level where people could access better food, and more opportunities to be physically active every day,” Collins explains.

Money for LiveWell Springfield comes from a Centers for Disease Control’s Community Transformation grant.  The funding from the CDC goes toward four specific strategies: securing a full line grocery store on State Street; expanding the Go Fresh Mobile Market; increasing access and programming to the Riverwalk; and creating a Bike and Pedestrian Plan.

The key to LiveWell Springfield is to increase access to healthy eating and physical activity at the neighborhood level.

Wanda Givens is executive director of the Mason Square Health Task Force says one of biggest challenges is access. She says, “We all know that we should eat healthier. We all know that we should exercise more. But I think we have habits that are hard to break and then when we finally make the decision that we do need to do these things, it’s having the access to them, not knowing where to go or how to go about doing it.”

The Caring Health Center is a Live Well Partner. Its facility on Main Street in Springfield includes a wellness center, a teaching kitchen and exercise space.

Its vice president, Dr. Cristina Huebner-Torres, says the Live Well collaboration allows people to find out where and how to get the services they need, adding, “If a person has to make changes to support a healthier outcome, let’s say a person with diabetes, how are they going to get healthier foods, how are they going to be able to cook those things in a healthy way. It’s a matter of rally honing in on patient education or community education, combined with making these resources part of the system.”

Jessica Collins says all the strategies and policies they’re pushing to change in the city affects people all ages. “So it’s really around supporting families and individuals who live here or commute to Springfield to be able to access things every single day that increase they’re quality of life,” says Collins.

It’s been proven that people who eat better and who are more physically active live longer and have a better quality of life. And that in turn makes for a better Springfield.

The LiveWell Springfield  Movement is led by a coalition of over 20 local organizations. ABC40 is proud to be their media partner.

 


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