NWCT’s ‘Fit Together’ Making Progress Promoting Healthy Lifestyles

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Northwest Connecticut’s “Fit Together” NWCT community health initiative has been very busy over the past year building healthy kids and families by promoting wholesome eating and active lifestyle programs. The group’s Executive Director Carla Angevine and Program Coordinator Jessica Stewart have been developing and presenting an array of initiatives with the group’s steering and marketing committees made up of local health and non-profit leaders who volunteer their time.

“Our dream is that Torrington and Winsted will be recognized as the healthiest communities in Connecticut. Our future is held by our children and our challenge is to give them the best chance to live long, productive lives.” said Fit Together Executive Director Carla Angevine, MS, RDN.

The 5210 fitness initiative is the cornerstone of the groups’ outreach and educational efforts.

Early on, Fit Together members adopted a highly praised community program developed in Maine by the Maine Medical Center called “Let’s Go 5210”. This message stands for five or more fruits and vegetables a day, two hours or less of recreational screen time a day, one hour or more of physical activity a day, and zero sugary sweetened beverages. The program uses a six sector approach to reaching youth and families where they live, learn, work and play to reinforce the importance of healthy eating and physical activity. The six sectors are: early child-hood, schools, after-school, workplace, healthcare, and communities.

Fit Together Program Coordinator Jessica Stewart (L) and CHH Coordinator of Community Development Joyce Germano (R) promote healthy living at a kindergarten fair in Torrington.

Fit Together Program Coordinator Jessica Stewart (L) and CHH Coordinator of Community Development Joyce Germano (R) promote healthy living at a kindergarten fair in Torrington.

Recently, Fit Together announced its first GOLD Partner recognitions honoring 10 sites in Torrington and Winsted for their positive impact on children’s health including seven child care centers who are proactively implementing evidence-based strategies to increase daily healthy habits and three healthcare practices who are initiating conversations to reinforce the importance of healthy habits.

Fit together also allocates its resources for community assistance and has awarded $15,000 in mini grants to community partners to help support projects that aligned with Fit Together’s mission and strategies. These included funds to assist the Torrington Kids Marathon, a new Torrington Kids Golf program, phase one of the Torrington Middle School Fitness trail, equipment for the Gilbert School fitness room, and healthy snacks and healthier food preparation at Café Yum in the Torrington Public Schools.

Fit Together also supports sustainable healthy environmental opportunities in Torrington and Winsted by designating funding for a new all level fitness trail along the Sue Grossman Still River Greenway. They also organized a Bike Rack Sponsorship Program, with twenty new Fit Together bike racks allotted for placement throughout the two towns.

The group has also created specialized programs to address the nutrition and health needs in the community including the Healthy Weight and Your Child Fit Together Families program launching this fall for children who carry excess weight and their families. Other programs act to increase healthy eating and active living behaviors, create sustainable environmental and policy change, increase Public Awareness, increase participation of adults in chronic disease management programs, and decrease use of Tobacco Products.

Last year, Fit Together was able hire staff and introduce new programs thanks to a significant multi-year $500,000 grant as a result of the new affiliation of Charlotte Hungerford Hospital and Hartford HealthCare. The most recent community health assessment was conducted with the consulting assistance of The Percival Group. As in the past, the comprehensive study found that the leading health issues in our area largely mirror both state and national issues.

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