Project aims to keep community healthy

MARYSVILLE — The city of Marysville wants to hear from community members again to help advance the Healthy Communities Project.

There will be a community meeting Sept. 23 at Cedarcrest Middle School to discuss the next step in the project aimed at helping community members to stay active and healthy.

The city is sticking with what works, as three years ago it asked community members to help develop an outline of what was needed to reverse the trend of obesity in a similar meeting, to spectacular results.

“I’m really proud of what the city of Marysville has accomplished,” said Jim Ballew, City of Marysville Parks and Recreation Director. “Professionally, this is one of the highlights for me. Everybody has taken to this program and we’ve gotten a tremendous amount of support.”

Just last month, the city received the Hometown Spirit award from the Association of Washington Cities for it’s work. In fact, the project has helped received almost $1 million in various grants to continue its work over the past two years.

The statewide and nationally recognized program has helped the city develop more options for a healthier lifestyle, including education on eating right, more sites to be active, such as the Jennings Park Loop and Northpointe Park Loop Trail, and more programs with which to stay active.

But in all the project has accomplished, those at the city and its partner the Snohomish County Health District, consider this just the first phase.

“We still remain one of the largest zip codes in the county, waistline-wise,” Ballew said. “And it’s a lifestyle decision that we’re all guilty of.”

The meeting will include a healthy dinner and Ballew’s hope is to get even more involvement from a community that has shown it wants to be more fit.

“We’ve got ideas, but if it’s not what the community wants, then they won’t be successful,” he said. “We have to find out what everybody wants and help them make it happen.”

Ballew mentioned some of his ideas, such as a weekly community run, or even mini boot camps for those looking for a change, but once again, those aren’t set in stone, and might not be cost affective.

Along with healthy eating classes and either upgrading or installing new trails and facilities to stay active, there are a number of options open already, such kickball and softball leagues for adults and sports camps for kids. Also, the project organizes an All-Comers track meet, which will be held at Lakewood High School every Thursday from July 8-29 and free swimming sessions on select Fridays and Saturdays at the Marysville-Pilchuck High School pool.

Another goal for the project is finding a way to continue a healthy lifestyle throughout the year, instead of a few of the more popular times annually.

“We want people to think about it all year and not be on a seasonal basis,” Ballew said. “You always get those New Year’s resolutions and then not much after that, but we want to make it easier to keep that spirit going. Can you imagine if everyone did something like a Relay for Life every weekend?”

In the same vein, Ballew said the schools have helped thousands of kids commit to the Get Movin’ program, where kids pledge to follow a daily exercise routine.

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