From the Florida Department of Health

The Orange County communities of Apopka, Eatonville, and Orlando were among 46 that were recently named Healthy Community Champions by the Florida Department of Health.

“I am pleased to recognize local communities who have shown a special commitment to improving the health of their residents,” said State Surgeon General and Secretary Dr. Celeste Philip. “Their efforts to implement policies that empower residents and visitors to improve their health are an important part of creating healthy environments throughout Florida.”

“Apopka, Eatonville, and Orlando are leading the way in Orange County by creating a ‘health in all policies’ approach for their residents,” said Dr. Kevin Sherin, the Health Officer for the Florida Department of Health in Orange County. “By promoting healthy lifestyles and conditions for health they are adding value to the community and to Orange County. We are delighted to see them recognized by the State Surgeon General for their efforts.”

Each in their own way, whether through healthy cooking programs, food nutrition education, or fitness programs, the local governments of Apopka, Eatonville, and Orlando have played an important role in improving the health of their communities.

Local governments have implemented a variety of policies that have been shown to increase physical activity and improve nutrition. Between February and April 2018, local governments were invited to submit best practices to demonstrate how they met the Healthy Community Champion criteria.

The Healthy Community Champions Recognition Program provides an opportunity to highlight local governments that have focused on improving the built environment. The department defines the Built Environment as the places where people live, work and play (e.g., homes, buildings, streets, open spaces and infrastructure), food environments (e.g., supermarkets, corner stores, farmer’s markets and food pantries), and other environmental influences (e.g., indoor/outdoor air and water quality, noise pollution and environmental toxins).

The built environment can influence residents’ physical, nutritional, and mental health within their community through policies designed to provide adequate access to physical activity opportunities, adequate access to healthy, affordable, and culturally appropriate foods, access to health care and a reduction or elimination of environmental health risks to the community. Through communities working to implement policies within the built environment, a greater level of social connectedness can be experienced. As defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, social connectedness is achieved through strong formal relationships between organizations and support services designed to help better ensure that services are delivered and promote a person’s sense of well-being. 

About Healthy Community Champions

To learn more about Healthy Community Champions and for a list of the 2018 Champion Communities and best practices, please visit the Healthy Community Champions 2018 Recognition Program website.

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