Opinion

Getting Healthy

In December 2008, the Snohomish Health District released a report by ZIP code of the most obese areas in Snohomish County. Marysville tipped the scales at 33.8 percent to become the “fattest city,” with one in three residents identified as obese.

A report on Obesity in Snohomish County published by the Health District in 2007 found that Marysville and other north county cities earned the unflattering distinction of having the highest prevalence of adult obesity (27 percent).

Countywide, we already have nearly twice the percentage of obese youth as the Healthy People 2010 goal of 5 percent.

Marysville’s ranking in the ZIP code study isn’t an easy one to live down. What these statistics fail to take into account is that over the past two years, Marysville has been meeting the challenge head on to reverse the trend of obesity among our youth and adults through the Marysville Healthy Communities Project.

The Marysville Healthy Communities Project is our community’s collaborative united response to combat the obesity epidemic in our community, and the chronic diseases linked to it — diabetes, heart disease and stroke. They are all increasing at an alarming rate.

Marysville sealed its commitment to the obesity challenge when Mayor Dennis Kendall nominated Marysville the first city in the county to partner with the Snohomish Health District in the HC Project. The City Council has pledged ongoing financial support for Healthy Communities (even as the Health District cut Healthy Communities funding for cities from its 2009 budget), and Councilmembers serve on Committees referenced below. Parks and Recreation Director Jim Ballew has coordinated efforts on behalf of the city since day one.

A wide variety of volunteers and decision-makers from all corners of the community are providing the framework in which Marysville’s policymakers can built and support an environment that makes it easier for residents to choose to lead healthier, fitter lives. Key partners include city departments, schools, YMCA, the Health District, Tulalip Tribes, Everett Clinic, Marysville Community Coalition, business community, churches, and residents serving on committees focused in three key priority areas outlined in the Healthy Communities Action Plan.

Are we succeeding? Absolutely. Here is just a sampling of the HC Projects that are helping our community win the “battle of the bulge,” activities that are available for you to take part in:

Walking Wednesdays every Wednesday night (and due to popular demand, new Movin’ Mondays added) at the high school track and stadium stairs.

Three Friday Family Swim Nights at the High School Pool, free to the first 200 visitors — Next free swims are Feb. 20 and March 27.

Marysville Parks and Recreation’s All-Comers Track Meets in Summer, and year-round classes and activities promoting fitness and healthy eating..

Future installation of fitness equipment at Hickok and Jennings Nature parks along the 4-mile Jennings Park Loop Trail (visit the HC Web site for map at http://www.marysvillehealthycommunitiesproject.com).

Community gardens, with a possible site at the Doleshel Tree Farm near Kellogg-March Elementary along 67th Avenue near 88th Street. A feasibility study and survey has been conducted to gauge community interest.

Bi-lingual healthy recipe cards for the Marysville Community Food Bank in the future that use the very foods and ingredients distributed at the food bank.

More bicycle lanes have been installed around Marysville.

City opened Strawberry Fields for Rover Off-Leash Dog Park at Strawberry Fields Athletic Complex. The park gives dogs and owners lots of room to roam free — the walk to the park is an aerobic workout in itself.

Pursuing development of the Bayview/Whiskey Ridge Trail, a 1.6-mile trail in the City’s eastside foothills from SR 528 north to 84th Street NE.

Implemented a new Healthy Lifestyle Mini-Grant Program to give youths funding for sustainable projects that convey a policy priority of the HC Project, up to $500, and funded by the city and YMCA Pioneering Healthy Communities partnership.

And finally, don’t miss our Get Movin’/Healthy Communities Kick-off “Play Day” on Saturday, June 6, a day filled with healthy activities, fun with fruits and vegetables, gardening presentations, musical entertainment, vendors, and much more. We will keep you posted on details in the coming weeks through the HC Web site, local newspapers and other media.

Stay informed about the actions that Marysville is taking to promote healthier lifestyles, so you have an answer the next time someone asks. And take advantage of the many opportunities that Healthy Communities is offering to combat the reversible, preventable trend of obesity in our community.

Let’s turn Marysville from Snohomish County’s “Fattest City” to the “Fittest City.”

Doug Buell is Community Information Officer for the City of Marysville, and Co-Chair of the Healthy Communities “Healthy Foods” Subcommittee.

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