ACHIEVE Grant Means New Opportunities for Cascade County
A new year is underway, and the Cascade City-County Health Department (CCHD) has some exciting plans to help make positive changes in Cascade County in 2012! To assist in implementing these plans, CCHD applied for an ACHIEVE (Action Communities for Health, Innovation and EnVironmental changE) grant that is intended to help make communities, such as Cascade County, healthier places to to live, work and play. The application was submitted with the intention of helping support an established and active coalition, Get Fit Great Falls, which has already begun working towards improving the health of Cascade County. Now, the wait is over and CCHD has some great news; the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) just revealed that CCHD is one of the 15 new communities chosen for the ACHIEVE program!
The opportunity to become an ACHIEVE community is a chance for CCHD, Get Fit Great Falls and national organizations to work collaboratively to help prevent chronic disease through policy, systems and environmental change strategies. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), chronic diseases and conditions, such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer, obesity and arthritis, are pervasive leading causes of death nationally. Many times, preventable risk factors, such as tobacco use, insufficient physical activity and poor eating habits, contribute to the development of these diseases. ACHIEVE seeks to empower local communities to focus on issues such as these and will also assist in helping our community address one of the three priority areas of the Community Health Improvement Plan: obesity.
Cascade County is well poised to start work immediately because the Get Fit Great Falls Coalition is already fully active and ready to move forward. CCHD and community partners have begun working towards a healthier community by taking steps such as compiling a Community Health Assessment, developing a Community Health Improvement Plan, finishing the Downtown Master Plan and supporting coalitions such as Get Fit Great Falls. Another exciting component is that Cascade County will be mentored by RiverStone Health in Billings, Montana. RiverStone is an established ACHIEVE community and will share what they have learned about making local improvements in a Montana city that will promote healthy living.
“Receiving this grant will help facilitate the process for our community,” state Alicia M. Thompson, Health Officer for CCHD. She goes on to say that, “We have community partners and stakeholders who are already committed to this process. The experience, structure, mentorship and fiscal support from ACHIEVE will be invaluable for the positive development of our community, and we are dedicated to making the most out of this exciting opportunity.”