News Release: DOH-Volusia - Three New Cities Named Healthy Weight Community Champions
January 27, 2020
Volusia County, Fla. - Three Volusia County municipalities have been named Healthy Weight Community Champions by the Florida Department of Health (DOH). Deltona, Orange City and Port Orange are among 33 communities statewide that earned the recent designation.
"These cities have worked to improve the health of their community in different ways," said DOH-Volusia administrator Patricia Boswell. "Ranging from comprehensive planning and code requirements to trail and walkability efforts, these efforts are focused on creating an environment that supports healthy communities."
The City of Deltona is continually seeking opportunities to expand trails and pedestrian facilities, according to its application. Trails support physical well-being and healthy habits by creating a space to walk, run, bike or jog in a natural setting within the urban environment. For example, the city aggressively addresses sidewalk and trail maintenance and repairs. An initiative to include bike lanes on the shoulder of all major paved thoroughfares is underway.
A pilot city for the Walkability Action Institute, Orange City is working on interdisciplinary teams to pursue policy, systems, and environmental supports for walking and walkability. By creating a safe environment to practice physical activity and by increasing access to healthier foods, the city also is promoting healthy behaviors. According to its application, the city's comprehensive plan includes provisions that encourage a diverse mix of transportation modes by requiring a hierarchy of interconnected streets for different traffic characteristics, internal mobility corridors designed as complete streets, and transit-ready development. The plan also requires that development along major transit corridors provide external transit shelters and sidewalks that link to internal pedestrian and bicycle paths within the development. Six of the city's seven parks are in low-income areas. Three parks have playgrounds. The city also allows community gardens as a responsible and customary accessory use in most cases.
According to the City of Port Orange's application, the city's Comprehensive Plan and Land Development Code has requirements geared toward city connectivity with trails, bikeways, and wide sidewalks. The Comprehensive Plan promotes walking and biking to school through infrastructure improvements, enforcement, and safety education. All new parks and playgrounds are built with an inclusive design that provides physical accommodations, engagement, and integration for all children. Additionally, city parks have fitness equipment that is free to the public. To support the health of city employees, the city has established a wellness policy that allows employees to take an extra 15 minutes during lunch hours, three days a week, for fitness-related activities.
Three East Volusia cities named in 2018 continue to be recognized as Healthy Weight Community Champions. New Smyrna Beach, Ormond Beach and Ponce Inlet will retain the designation through 2020.
In the summer of 2019, local governments were encouraged to submit best practices and policies they have implemented in their jurisdictions related to health and wellness, Boswell added. The work highlighted on the applications demonstrates local government commitment to making Florida the healthiest state in the nation.
The Community Champions program is part of the department's Healthiest Weight Florida initiative. Healthiest Weight Florida is a public-private collaboration bringing together state agencies, not-for-profit organizations, businesses and entire communities to help Florida's children and adults make consistent, informed choices about healthy eating and active living.
About the Florida Department of Health
The department, nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board, works to protect, promote and improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county and community efforts.