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​Public Health Program Wins Healthiest Cities and Counties Challenge


public health grand prizeThe Mecklenburg County Public Health Office of Community Engagement program has received the grand prize in the Healthiest Cities and Counties Challenge. This nationwide challenge supports the efforts of 50 small and midsize cities and counties that have innovative solutions for public health issues in the community.

Public Health received the award for their facilitation of the Village HeartBEAT program (VHB). County leaders, Governor Roy Cooper, Public Health staff, VHB participants, and VHB community stakeholders accepted the $500,000 grand prize award today during a special presentation at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center. The funds will be used to help combat cardiovascular disease in the community. Last year Public Health was one of 10 recipients that received a $25,000 spotlight award from the Challenge.

Village HeartBEAT has helped reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by improving the level of fitness and health education for nearly 700 residents in Mecklenburg. VHB reduced smoking in the community from 17.4 percent to 13.9 percent and obesity rates from 70 percent to 64.7 percent. This was accomplished by using local faith-based organizations (a network of over 60 churches) as sites to promote healthy lifestyles in the African American and Hispanic populations. The program uses a combination of physical exercise and education to improve/maintain participants' biometrics such as weight, BMI, blood pressure, cholesterol, and hemoglobin A1c.

The Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge was launched in 2016 by the Aetna Foundation, along with the American Public Health Association and the National Association of Counties.