Making it Better Initiative Launches in Olmsted County to Spotlight Everyday Heroes Making Their Communities Healthier

The local campaign highlights local residents who are improving the health of their communities through access to healthier foods and physical activity opportunities

Aug 22, 2011, 08:30 ET from Olmsted County Public Health

ROCHESTER, Minn., Aug. 22, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- How do we make our communities better? It happens block-by-block, neighborhood-by-neighborhood: people, community groups and businesses working together and working hard to foster healthy choices and improved lives. And, while Olmsted County consistently ranks high nationwide in health and livability rankings, the individual efforts that foster these rankings go unnoticed, their good deeds unheralded.

"Healthy communities promote a culture of health and active living," said Kari Etrheim, Health Education Manager at Olmsted County Public Health. "Everyone can contribute to ensuring members of our community have access to fresh foods and opportunities to be active where we live, learn, work and play."

Making it Better seeks to bring people together to discover, celebrate and share stories of Olmsted County residents and neighbors who are working to make their communities healthier through smart food and physical activity choices. Several community members are already taking steps to make their schools, neighborhoods and workplaces healthier and are featured in local advertisements and online at

  • 11 childcare centers in Olmsted County that are working to focus on physical activity for kids in both structured and unstructured settings – all as part of a new initiative that integrates movement into early learning. The expectation is that skills and attitudes kids learn now can carry over in other settings and foster healthy living in later years.
  • Members of Rochester Fire Department Station 3 decided to supplement their station wellness efforts with an increased focus on nutrition after learning that nationwide 50 percent of firefighter deaths off duty in the past 10 years have been cardiovascular related. The result: a beautiful vegetable garden less than 100 feet from the kitchen table for all three shifts to enjoy.
  • Dover-Eyota Public Schools, which in 2011 marked its third year of its farm-to-school program, offering fresh meats, fruits and vegetables in its school lunches that have been sourced from local farms. In addition to promoting healthier nutritional choices among students, children learn how food is grown and produced. Students also gain a better understanding of how eating locally sourced foods directly supports area farmers, some of which are relatives or friends of the students attending the schools.

Throughout the campaign, Olmsted County residents are invited to share their ideas for making it better where they live, learn, work and play. During the month of October, those that are making changes in their community, schools and worksites are asked to submit their story of how they are making it better for a chance to win prizes and potentially be featured in a new Making it Better advertisement that will debut in January 2012. For more information, visit

Communities Putting Prevention to Work in Olmsted County

Making it Better is made possible by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as part of Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW), a federally-funded initiative that supports policy, systems and environmental changes to reduce obesity, a primary cause of chronic disease. Effectively addressing some of the key behaviors that contribute to obesity – lack of physical activity and poor nutrition – can have a significant impact on the health of a community.

Olmsted County is one of 50 communities nationwide selected to participate in the national CPPW initiative, which is being led locally by Olmsted County Public Health with guidance from the Minnesota Department of Health. The Making it Better campaign is being launched concurrently in Olmsted County and Minneapolis.

SOURCE Olmsted County Public Health