Northwest Connecticut’s Fit Together public health initiative is poised to grow thanks to a five year, $500K grant received from Hartford HealthCare (HHC) as a result of their new affiliation with Torrington’s Charlotte Hungerford Hospital.
Formed in 2011, Fit Together NWCT’s goal is to help schools, business and communities to change policies, systems and environments so that the default is the healthy choice by creating easier access to healthy foods and opportunities and desirable places for physical activity.
Allocated in $100,000 increments annually for five years, this critical financial support allows the group to move forward on several health initiatives, and has allowed the program to hire Carla Angevine, MS, RDN, as Fit Together’s Executive Director, and Jessica Stewart as 5210 Coordinator.
David Whitehead, HHC’s Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy and Transformation Officer, noted that the grant reflects the organization’s emphasis on population health. “At Hartford HealthCare, we go beyond episodes of care,” he said. “We are creating and sustaining healthier communities for the patients, families and neighbors we serve across Connecticut. We support these programs in northwest Connecticut to strengthen Charlotte Hungerford Hospital’s vital role as a center and source of wellness in the region.”
“We are so excited and honored to receive this financial support from Hartford HealthCare. Our volunteer Steering Committee has been so dedicated and has worked so hard over these past six years to especially help Torrington and Winsted children be healthier through working with schools, pediatrician’s offices and childcare centers. This amazing grant will allow us to take a giant step forward in effectiveness and create new momentum for us to move forward with new initiatives much faster.” said Greg Brisco, CEO of the Northwestern Connecticut YMCA.
Fit Together focuses on identifying policy changes and environmental improvements in area towns
that effectively promote healthy habits and food choices. The program is based on assessments and research which has consistently shown that healthy eating and active living promotes productivity at work and school, maximizes mental and physical functioning, and prevents chronic diseases.
Fit Together has had many early successes. It has helped Torrington Board of Education to revise its School Wellness Policy, assisted the starting of three school gardens, helped to fund the start up of Torrington Kids Marathon, encouraged the City of Torrington to apply for funds to extend the Sue Grossman Greenway and add sidewalks on East Main Street, and worked with employers, schools and childcare centers to analyze their physical locations and create healthier policies and environments.
“After reviewing the programs throughout the nation, we decided to adopt the MaineHealth’s Let’s Go! 5210 healthy living messaging, which was easy for kids to understand and remember.” says Leslie Polito, Public health Nurse with Torrington Area Health District. 5-2-1-0 stands for Five (5) fruits or vegetables per day, a maximum of two (2) hours of recreational screen time, one (1) hour of physical activity and no (0) sugary beverages.
Despite the relative good health the people of Litchfield County enjoy, health care spending continues to rise and the surrounding environment continues to negatively affect the distribution of health. Two recent community health assessments, conducted in 2012 and 2015, found that the leading health issues in the area largely mirror both state and national issues. Fit Together’s goal is to effectively address these worsening conditions and promote healthy habits and choices of residents.
Visit www.how2fitkids.org for more information on Fit together and the Let’s Go! 5210 health initiative.