By Robin GOLDSWORTHY
ivic leaders gathered together on April 6 to kick-off We Own the Health of Our Community, a collective impact initiative whose members are dedicated to improving the health of Glendale residents. Co-chaired by Edna Karinski, CEO of Community Foundation of the Verdugos, and Lisa Raggio, executive director of Wellness Works, We Own the Health of Our Community focuses on raising awareness of healthy options and decreasing the risk of chronic disease through education about nutrition and exercise.
The event, held at the Alex Theatre in Glendale, was a charter-signing ceremony that provided an opportunity for signers to mix and mingle in the courtyard while enjoying healthy snacks and beverages before adjourning to the theatre’s interior.
Several guest speakers took the podium at the invitation-only event to outline the initiative and to offer direction on how to implement it.
“This is a powerhouse crowd,” said City of Glendale Manager Scott Ochoa when addressing the row upon row of dignitaries. Ochoa was the event chair with Tom Lorenz taking on the duties of master of ceremonies.
Ochoa said that the City’s participation dates back to the longstanding Healthier Communities Coalition.
“Blessed with three hospitals in town, we have enjoyed a historic relationship with healthcare providers – particularly as they collaborate to produce their community needs assessment,” he said. “While we don’t have our own health department (the vast majority of cities do not, but rather defer to the county), this evolution toward ‘collective impact’ is a natural progression of the collaboration between healthcare, NGOs and public institutions in Glendale.”
Among the speakers at the Alex was Dr. Barbara Ferrer from the Los Angeles County Dept. of Public Health. Ferrer gave a detailed presentation of one of the major diseases facing the American public today – diabetes. Among the information she presented was how the prevalence of diabetes and obesity has risen among adults in LA County in the last several years and how nearly half of California adults are on a path to diabetes. To combat this, she said the County recommends several actions including following a healthy meal plan, maintaining or including physical activity and taking the free ADA risk test available at www.stopdiabetes.com.
“We are charting a path forward for our children,” she said. She also applauded Glendale Unified School District Superintendent Winfred Roberson, who was in the crowd, for his allowing and encouraging the shared-use of school campuses with the community.
Bruce Nelson, administrative director, Community Services, Adventist Health, updated the crowd on some of the positive changes already undertaken in the City. Among these were the no-smoking policies implemented and the installation of vending machines on school campuses that reflect a “Healthy Kids, Healthy Lives” mentality.
Not long after was the signing ceremony. Several of the attendees made their way to the Alex stage where the charter was unfurled, ready for their signatures.
Attendees left with a call to action for schools, businesses, healthcare and nonprofit communities to build on the foundation of providing information to those with whom they interact.
“We Own the Health of Our Community is a wonderful illustration of the cooperative spirit within Glendale,” said Kevin Roberts, president and CEO of Glendale Adventist Medical Center. “Employers, hospitals and civic leaders have all come together to commit to fulfilling the dream of a healthier Glendale. This will succeed because it’s what we need and we’re doing it together!”