Healthy West Orange Strives to Make Healthy Living Accessible

By Diana Lomont, Editorial Contributor

Finding ways to make healthy living practical and fun is at the heart of Healthy West Orange (HWO), a movement to make west Orange County the healthiest community in the nation.

Not everyone can find the time or energy to run a 5K. But anyone can do a virtual 5K over the course of a month and track their progress walking, running, biking or swimming, says Tracy Swanson, executive director of the West Orange Healthcare District. Using digital tools and social connections, HWO encourages residents to eat well, stay active and enjoy life no matter their age or activity level. 

“We define getting healthy in pretty broad terms — it’s not always doing CrossFit or training for a marathon,” says Swanson. “It can be cooking at home, choosing healthy ingredients, gardening or even playing outside with your kids. Or if you’re in the older demographic and not able to go out and exercise as much, it’s mindfulness and volunteering, finding ways to plug into your community.”

At the website, residents can track health goals and receive updates on health events, tools, contests and campaigns. For example, a downloadable “Rescue Resolution” sheet lets users track their own list of healthy goals that can be taped to the refrigerator. Videos on the website feature residents sharing their own health motivators and inspiration.

Launched in September 2016, HWO is supported by its three founding champions, the West Orange Healthcare District, Orlando Health – Health Central Hospital and the Observer Media Group. HWO’s vision is to make west Orange County the healthiest community in the country based on benchmarks from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s program, County Health Rankings & Roadmaps. 

To achieve this goal, the organization is building relationships with businesses, schools, government and other community groups to provide access to health-focused programs, from free screenings and educational classes to health challenges with prizes. Collectively, they aim to inspire healthy behaviors, champion wellness programs, unite health-minded organizations and advocate for healthy community decisions.

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