—  September 21, 2016  —
Walk to School Day
Wednesday, October 5th
Mental Illness Awareness Week
October 2-8
Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge will ‘Give a Voice’ to local residents
We are excited to share the news that Kane County Health Department has been selected to be a HealthyCommunity50 finalist, in the Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge. As a finalist, we will receive a $10,000 community seed award to implement our “Achieving Genuine Community Engagement” program. The Health Department is now set to compete for up to $500,000 in prizes to be used to “give a voice” to our community.

The Challenge is a partnership between the Aetna Foundation, the American Public Health Association, and the National Association of Counties. They will award $1.5 million in prizes to small and mid-sized cities, counties and federally-recognized tribes that are able to show measurable change over the course of several years. 
The Health Department was selected as a Phase II finalist in the Challenge because we plan to realize measureable results in healthy eating and active living through community engagement with our program.

Our participation in the Challenge comes at a critical time for our community. Through the Challenge, the Health Department will focus on health equity by increasing community engagement. KCHD plans to use this award as an opportunity to better engage individual residents in a manner that provides them with a larger say and more authority over program and funding decisions.
Kane County staff accept the challenge
to be one of the Healthiest Counties.
“Achieving Genuine Community Engagement” aims to ensure that everyone in our community, no matter their zip code, has a voice in determining public health efforts in their communities; in other words, to “give them a voice.”

“Frequently, a small group of people make all the decisions in a community,” said Kane County Health Department Executive Director Barbara Jeffers. “We have a half-million unique individuals in Kane County, Illinois, and we are committed to giving everyone a voice.”
We encourage everyone to participate in the conversation on Facebook by liking our page HERE,
and following us on Twitter at @KaneCoHealth,
using the hashtags #HealthiestCitiesChallenge
and #GiveKaneAVoice.

To learn more about the Challenge, please visit www.healthiestcities.org.

A short video by Kane County Health Department
and additional details can be found
on our Challenge page HERE.
Walk to School Day: October 5 
Walk to School Day is an annual event that highlights the importance of developing safe and easy ways to increase the physical activity that makes kids healthier. The hope is to raise awareness of the costs of chronic diseases and to make physical activity a routine part of everyone’s day.

Events such as this can inspire and promote enthusiasm for walking and biking to school. As we know, physical activity is one way to help prevent chronic disease, which has been identified as a Health Priority in the Kane County Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP). The other two Health Priorities are Behavioral Health and Income and Education.
On this day, schools from around the county, the United States, even the world, encourage students to walk or bike to school. Promoting an active lifestyle, such as walking to school, helps children get the regular activity they need, while forming healthy habits that can last a lifetime. Organized by the Partnership for a Walkable America, Walk to School Day in the USA began in 1997 as a one-day event aimed at building awareness for the need for walkable communities.

In 2000, the event became international when the UK and Canada (both of which had already been promoting walking to school) and the USA joined together for the first International Walk to School Day.
To register your school and learn more about Walk to School Day and the Fit for Kids Funders Consortium, please visit their website: www.makingkanefitforkids.org  
The Kane County event is made possible annually with $150 mini-grants to participating schools from the Fit For Kids Funders’ Consortium: Rush-Copley Foundation, United Way of Elgin, Community Foundation of the Fox River Valley, Kane County Division of Transportation, and the Kane County Health Department.
Working to end the stigma
Oct. 2 through Oct. 8 is Mental Illness Awareness Week.
Each year, the week provides an opportunity to fight stigma, provide support, educate the public and advocate for equal care.  According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), one in five adults experience mental illness problems every year. Unfortunately, individuals and families affected by mental illness are still often subjected to stigma and discrimination.

Behavioral Health has been identified by our community as one of the three top Health Priorities in the Kane County Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP). The other two Health Priorities are Chronic Disease and Income and Education.
During Mental Illness Awareness Week on Oct. 2-8, join NAMI in shining a light on mental illness and replacing stigma with hope by taking the #StigmaFree pledge at www.nami.org/stigmafree.

You'll find more information at the NAMI site HERE.
Going forward, the CHIP Behavioral Health action team, along with the Kane County Mental Health Council, will set about establishing working goals in the Improvement Plan, as ways to battle the stigma of mental illness.

For more info on the CHIP and its Health Priorities, please visit the KaneHealthCounts.org.

Historic farmland producing healthy food again
at Presence Mercy Medical Center   

Not so very long ago, much of the land around Presence Mercy Medical Center in Aurora was farmland. With a history like that, what better way to manage some of that open space than to turn it back into its original purpose of producing food?

That was the idea of the hospital’s Community Board, and so the Presence Mercy Community Garden was established.
“There was a lot of interest on our board. This was the perfect opportunity to open our community garden,” said Michael O’Rourke, Presence's Regional Human Resources Officer, Fox River Valley Region, and the garden administrator. There are forty 10x50 foot garden plots tended by hospital employees.
The food, which is now beginning to be harvested, is used by the gardeners themselves, for patients, and often donated to local food pantries. In keeping with its mission, Presence also operates a series of raised community garden beds at its Presence St. Joseph campus in Elgin, according to O’Rourke.

O’Rourke said the Presence gardens could not have been a success without the help of Master Gardener Patsy Hirsch and the Kane County Extension Service. Further, the materials and labor for starting the Presence Mercy garden were donated by Sebert’s Landscaping. Sebert’s donated material and provided support at Mercy Medical Center and Saint Joseph Hospital. At Saint Joseph Hospital in Elgin, Bear Construction provided the Garden with the raised beds.

Considering the available land and its long history of producing food, look for the Presence Mercy garden to expand in the future, producing more healthy fruits and vegetables for the community, he said.
More information about Presence Health can be found by visiting www.presencehealth.org.   
The idea of community gardens is also a good match for the philosophy of the Making Kane County Fit For Kids program. Its goal is to increase access to fresh fruits and vegetables. For more information on community gardens in the Fit for Kids initiative please visit their website HERE.
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