Jay achieves recognition as healthy communities champion

Special to

The town of Jay has been recognized as a 2019 Healthy Communities Champion by the Florida Department of Health and the Healthiest Weight Florida program.

This recognition makes Jay the first local government entity of Santa Rosa County to make the list. Thirty-eight towns and counties from Florida were selected this year. The Florida Department of Health (FDOH) recognizes and assists communities making Health in All Policies an integral part of their comprehensive planning.

The town of Jay promotes a healthy and active lifestyle in its projects and sponsored events. The town promotes health through athletics and youth activities with family-oriented outdoor exercise at Bray-Hendricks Park. This 40-acre park is the hub of many family-oriented athletic leagues, and as a result, increased emphasis has been placed on creating a master plan for the park.

The Bray-Hendricks Park Master Plan will upgrade all existing fields, courts, and playgrounds. The town is also in the process of renovating the abandoned livestock market into a Farmers Market for local farmers to sell their produce and other locally made food products.

“In August, the Santa Rosa County Health Department encouraged all the local governments in the county to complete an application and share their best practices,” said Santa Rosa County Public Health Services Manager Matt Dobson. “We are pleased the department recognizes what we already know. Santa Rosa has much to offer in the area of healthy living. We must strive to improve the health of all our residents.”

Obesity rates in the U.S. have increased dramatically over the last 30 years, reaching epidemic proportions. In Florida, only 33.9% of adults are at a healthy weight. To address this issue, the Florida Department of Health created the Healthy Community Champions Recognition Program.

Health in All Policies, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “is a collaborative approach that integrates and articulates health considerations into policy decisions across sectors to improve the health of all communities and people.”

Local governments can play a pivotal role in improving public health by implementing policies and practices that have been shown to increase physical activity and improve nutrition. These “best practice” policies are reflected in the submission form and also align with the 2017-2021 State Health Improvement Plan (SHIP).

Florida municipalities (cities, towns, and villages) and counties are eligible to apply. Submissions must be made by a municipal or county official. Unincorporated areas may apply under the sponsorship of their county. The application process for 2020 will open in June of next year.