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HEAL-PLAN NH partnership promotes healthier communities.

Focusing on how the "built environment, can either facilitate or block access to both physical activity and healthier food, two New Hampshire nonprofits have launched a collaboration aimed at implementing community-generated programs for a healthier state.

Healthy Eating Active Living NH (or HEAL, led by the Foundation for Healthy Communities) and Plan NH are partnering for the first time to work with selected communities that have expressed an interest in providing more options for healthy foods and physical activity.

It's the first collaboration to provide such a spectrum of resources to support healthy and vibrant communities in New Hampshire.

Plan NH has focused its efforts on the built environment to create strong town centers and neighborhoods with positive economic, social and environmental impact, while HEAL has worked to help develop and support community coalitions that promote access to healthy eating and physical activity.

Although the organizations had never-worked together before, HEAL and Plan NH share the fundamental belief that the design of the built environment influences people's abilities to make healthy choices, said Terry Johnson, director of HEAL.

According to Johnson, both organizations are committed to providing training and expert support to community leaders and residents that will lead to positive, long-term changes in communities to help people have more options to eat healthier and be more active.

"The collaboration between HEAL and Plan NH is designed to bring a full spectrum of resources and assistance to engage community leaders and residents," said Johnson. "Plan NH has a great history of convening community leaders and residents and helping them to envision the possibilities for their community. Our partnership with Plan NH will help HEAL coalitions identify opportunities, create a plan to leverage them, and ensure healthy eating and active living is woven into the fabric of their communities."

HEAL recently announced that it will provide funding, training and other resources to Ashland, Berlin, Laconia and Nashua. Each community will receive approximately $10,000 in grants and over $80,000 of training and technical assistance from HEAL and Plan NH over the two-year grant period.

Under the HEAL Community Grant Program municipal officials are required to take the lead in mobilizing community members to work together--in contrast to traditional community health improvement models led by public health agencies or nonprofits.

HEAL and Plan NH will help communities identify and implement municipal strategies--such as adding bike paths, sidewalks, and farmers markets--to provide more choices for residents to eat healthy and be physically active.

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Title Annotation:HEALTH/WELLNESS; New Hampshire
Publication:New Hampshire Business Review
Geographic Code:1U1NH
Date:Jul 27, 2012
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