When you think of New Orleans, what’s the first thing that comes to mind?
Is it Mardi Gras, Bourbon Street, Jazz Fest, or the Saints? Did you ever think “healthy city”? Perhaps surprisingly to some, New Orleans was recently recognized as being a healthy place to live.
Competing against 150 other cities throughout the country, New Orleans was one of six cities to win the Roadmaps to Health Prize from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Our New Orleans Health Department was acknowledged for its innovative strategies for improving health by developing strong multi-sector partnerships and addressing New Orleans’ high murder rate.
“While we recognize this success,” says Dr. Flint Mitchell, program officer for the Greater New Orleans Foundation, “as a city we have a long way to go. We have a responsibility to improve the well-being of our most valuable asset — our people.” In Orleans Parish, only half of adults and a third of high school students are physically active on a regular basis, and two-thirds of adults and one-third of high school students are not at a healthy weight.
Addressing this issue is Fit NOLA, the City’s comprehensive plan to achieve healthy weight and fitness for everyone in New Orleans. “Part of this initiative includes building more bike lanes, introducing healthy supermarkets in underserved neighborhoods, and adding more park space,” says Dr. Mitchell, steering committee member for this initiative. The goal is to be one of the ten fittest cities in the United States by 2018, the 300th anniversary of New Orleans. And, that’s just one more reason to celebrate.