Shape Up Somerville

Uploaded by MrNatick1 on 13.08.2010

Shape up Somerville is a community-based...
environmental approach to reversing a trend childhood obesity in Somerville...
and more importantly, it's about raising the social consciousness of and entire community
and its leadership, in thinking about what policies we implement that affect
the way we eat, the way we live, the way we move and our tenets of
Eat Smart, Play Hard, Move More, and I like to say Live Well
guide all our policy positions.
The major question I get from mayors around the country, CEOs, administrators is...
how can we afford to do this?
My response is that you can not afford not to do it.
Much of what we do in our community is consistent toward improving our quality of life
It is our responsibility not to govern within the four corners of a budget.
A budget doesn't tell you about the health, wellbeing, and livability of your neighborhoods.
So it's important to embrace tenets and develop policies to improve the quality of life
of all those who live, work, play, raise their children and send their children to our schools.
And, it can be done. With very few resources, we've been able to do that.
We've been able to be very aggressive about applying for grants, receiving grants
Somerville is a very revenue constrained community, like every other city & town in Massachusetts
and there are many things that you can do that are cost neutral.
Shape Up Somerville approved restaurants was something that was done with little cost to the city.
Getting kids involved in developing menus for the schools, or doing taste testing...
was very cost neutral, I would submit.
We're all building parks, parks that are made flexible for very diverse populations...
that entice a variety of different programming.
Evaluating our recreation programs, to make sure we're allocating our resources effectively,
to achieve the most attractiveness and participation in all those programs.
So, there are a myriad things we can do as municipalities even with few resources.
And, we're able to sustain this because of our effectiveness to obtain grants, and...
everything we do is embraced around the policies & tenets of Shape Up Somerville.
Our residents have said that it's a good thing that we should make our community healthy,
because healthy communities are productive communities.
Our consciousness is raised to a level that we believe that the healthy choice
should be the easy choice in our schools, our neighborhoods, in our squares.
In our schools, we've had more structured recess programs.
We were able to receive a grant to be the first community in Massachusetts to create...
Cycle Kids, where we have 10 bicycles at each school and we teach kids bike safety...
and how to ride a bicycle. That's in every elementary school in the city now.
We revamped our recreation department to entice a diverse population to our parks and programs.
We've painted bike lanes across every major boulevard in the city and we"ll be painting...
ten miles of bike lanes in the upcoming year, which makes a statement...
to the community that we embrace a multimodal form of transportation in this community.
We see more bicyclists participating, using the bike lanes and we've done a lot...
around utilizing our Chapter 90 money from the state to make our streets safer,
calming traffic with bump-outs and raised traffic tables.
We've improved the type of materials we use to paint our crosswalks, to have...
more illuminated crosswalks. We done a host of other things to calm traffic...
to make people feel safe if they walk to the park with their family, walk to school...
travel to our squares to do their shopping, or ride bicycle.
Developing policies that help us access good and wholesome food. What you see...
as a result of bad policy around the built environment it's been very difficult,
especially in urban communities, to walk, to bike, to access good and wholesome food...
and bad land use policy adds to that challenge.
Farmers markets in our squares, in Davis Sq. & Union Sq., and soon to be East Somerville and Winter Market...
allows people to have access to good and wholesome food like fresh fruits and vegetables.
Adding those fresh fruits & vegetables all day, throughout the school lunch program has been critical as well.
I think the collaboration between the city & schools has been an incredible success story.
Many municipalities you see this unofficial divide, lack of coordination between city agencies and the schools.
That cohesiveness, that synergy is critical.
School children are in that environment, they are captured in the school environment...
for 9 months of the year. So it's really important that our policies are aligned...
toward affecting a better lifestyle for them.
Engaging our school children in how we develop the menus for our school lunch was critical.
Working together with our health department and our schools has been an incredible success.
There is a tremendous economic upside for communities...
for industries that want to locate their, to locate in communities that believe in...
and that promote healthy healthy living.
It's important for elected leaders, manager & administrators understand that our role...
goes beyond balancing our budget or improving our bond rating.
Even in times of fiscal austerity, we have the ability to improve peoples lives.
Developing good policies that improves our quality of life is incumbent on all of us.
If we can keep that lens, and keep that approach and act today with eye towards tomorrow...
improving the quality of life of all those in our communities, we will have
healthier communities and we'll be a productive Commonwealth as a whole.