“Go Local for Health” Summit

We have all heard that healthcare cost are soaring, that chronic illness is on the rise, but did you know that there are 465,000 preventable deaths in the U.S. per year?

Did you know that more than 109 million Americans have one of these seven diseases: cancer, diabetes, heart disease, mental disorder, hypertension, pulmonary conditions or stroke?

Did you know that physicians are better trained to treat acute illnesses than chronic illnesses?

Did you know that physicians do not get paid to teach us about the benefits of diet, exercise or eliminating cigarettes?

So who is responsible? I believe we are responsible for our own health and education.

So how do we get there? By starting with this website and others. We can expand our knowledge of health through the vast amounts of literature available from leading research scientists. We can get involved with health programs or start our own health initiative.

I came away from the 2015 “Go Local for Health” Community Wellness Summit knowing that there are many passionate people out there providing programs in support of health in or near our communities. This is a real movement where individuals, businesses and local governments are making positive changes. So let’s get involved and help to support these programs. It could make a difference in your life or someone you love. So please don’t wait!!!


The Power of Produce (POP) program brings families and farmers together at participating farmers markets. The program started in Oregon, replicated throughout the country and is here in Franklin County.  The program teaches children, 4 through 12 years of age, about healthy food choices through educational activities like cooking demonstrations and food sampling. Each child receives a two dollar token weekly to spend on fresh produce. Parents find the program beneficial as children typically ask for the produce they have tried at the POP program. The POP program opens in downtown Chambersburg at the North Square Farmers Market on Memorial Day from 8 AM to Noon. Contact: www.hcpfranklinpa.org/KidsPOP.html


The South Central Pennsylvania Harvest Hub will connect local growers to 42 schools and nearly 25,000 students in the Adams, Cumberland and York counties. The program will support the local agricultural community while improving the health of students through school lunches and educational gardening projects. October will be known as National Farm to School Month (F2S). Carol Richwine, an AG teacher of 27 years, is passionate about this project and she is spearheading this initiative through her school in Dillsburg.  She can be contacted through paharvesthub.gmail. Additional information about this program can be found at www.morningagclips.com/farm-to-school-grant/


Elizabeth George, M.D. co-founded the Mercersburg Area Council for Wellness (MACWell) an organization promoting community health through construction of walking trails. By walking 30 minutes per day this will reduce by 50% many of the illnesses we face today. Contact: www.mac4wellness.org


Kevin Alvarnaz, Director of Community Health, Wellspan Health looks to engage a population of 40,000 people with access to 30 local parks. The city’s issue was that health enthusiast were the only ones using the parks and bike trails. So, how to get other segments of the population involved? The idea arose for people to take pictures of what’s healthy and what’s not, and then they were asked why they took that picture? In this way, effective changes could be made to promote physical activity and healthy eating for others in the community. Contact: www.eatplaybreatheyork.org

Our keynote speaker was Dr. William Sullivan, a landscape architect, from the University of Illinois. He had this to say “The conditions of modern living – work and life pressures – threaten the health and well-being of millions of Americans. Can we shift our perspective from treating the symptoms to proactively working to shape healthy individuals and communities? Yes, we can! There is mounting scientific evidence that one path to wellness passes through the nature near you. Some of the research has produced startling results: individuals who have more exposure to nature live longer, are less likely to produce low-birth-weight babies, and engage in less aggression and violence.” In addition, views of green space from the classroom significantly improved the attention span of school students, and more kids were bound for college if there cafeteria looked out at a green space.

Additional support for this topic can be found at Attention Restoration Theory or on this website at Forest Therapy and Stress.

Below are some additional topics presented and their websites for more information:

“Get Your Tail on the Trail: Leveraging Outdoor Recreation to Improve Community Wellness. Contact: www.tailonthetrail.org

Food for Thought: Improving Access to Local, Healthy Foods through Innovative Partnerships. Contact: www.thegleaningproject.org

Plugging In to Get Unplugged: Leveraging Online Resources for Outdoor Experiences. Contact: www.getoutdoorspa.org

Hiking and recreation in other counties of Pennsylvania. Contact: www.pavisnet.com/hiking/


The statistics presented above were taken from The Rise of Chronic Diseases in America – The Future of Healthcare Delivery.

For my next post, we will revisit Lyme disease as there may be a new development.

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