In honor of National Public Health Week, please join us in celebrating all of our wonderful partners who work every day to improve our communities! The theme of NPHW this year is to become the Healthiest Nation in One Generation — by year 2030.
Alicyn Mulder serves at Baptist Health in the Social Responsibility Department as a member of the National Health Corps Florida, an AmeriCorps program that meets local healthcare needs and develops public health professionals. She shares in this guest post the role her organization plays in building a healthy community in Northeast Florida!
Building a Healthier Community through “8 Weeks to Healthy Living”
As part of our commitment to building a healthy community, Baptist Health’s Social Responsibility Department is partnering with local faith-based and community organizations to offer “8 Weeks to Healthy Living,” a nutrition and physical activity program that provides participants with eight two-hour sessions each week with a registered dietitian and an exercise specialist. Participants are split into teams and assigned homework assignments each week, like exercising together with their team and modifying their own recipes with healthy substitutions. They also weigh in every week, and health screenings are conducted at the beginning and end of the program to see how their biometrics has changed since adopting a healthy lifestyle.
Of the 67 counties in Florida, Duval County is ranked 45th in overall health outcomes by the Florida Department of Health and has higher-than-average death rates for both diabetes and heart disease, as well as a higher-than-average number of residents considered to be obese or physically inactive.
However, the “8 Weeks to Healthy Living” initiative is starting to make a difference in the organizations where it is being offered. The program debuted with Philippian Community Church in April 2015. Most recently, Northside Church of Christ completed the program and at the end of the eight weeks, showed the following improvements:
- 96% of participants had a normal glucose level
- 83% of participants decreased their BMI
- 46% of participants decreased their total cholesterol by an average of 36 points
- 83% of participants had a normal level of HDL (“Good Cholesterol”)
- 91% of participants said they are more active after completing the program
- 95% of participants felt that changing their eating habits and increasing their physical activity improved their stress management.
- 83% of participants who completed the program lost weight
- As a group, they lost 155.4 pounds
Alicyn Mulder is leading this initiative by coordinating and implementing “8 Weeks to Healthy Living” at various faith-based and community organizations in Northeast Florida. This involves recruiting organizations to participate in the program; facilitating participant sign-ups; contracting a Registered Dietician and licensed Exercise Specialist for the program; and facilitating each meeting by providing lesson materials and conducting weekly weigh ins. Over the course of the program, Alicyn records statistics and trends to create a biometric report at the end of the program that shows how the health of participants has improved, as well as motivate and encourage participants each week.
Several more “8 Weeks to Health Living” programs are underway in Duval County. Although current groups have not completed the program yet, participants are already seeing changes due to exercising and changing their eating habits. Abyssinia Missionary Baptist Church is approaching week eight of the program, and one of their oldest participants has already lost 22 pounds. This participant is also getting his family involved by encouraging them to take walks with him after dinner. Through “8 Weeks to Healthy Living,” Baptist Health is helping to create a healthier community in Northeast Florida.