Commitment to healthy living earns Utah cities recognition | News, Sports, Jobs

BRIAN WOLFER, Special to the Standard-Examiner

Runners pound the pavement on the Ogden River Parkway trail during the Ogden Marathon on Saturday, May 21, 2022.

West Haven Mayor Rob Vanderwood and his city council members put a lot of importance on making sure there are as many healthy activity opportunities as possible for the citizens of their community.

That mindset recently won the city the Healthy Utah Community award.

The award is presented by Get Healthy Utah and the Utah League of Cities and Towns and focuses on cities and towns that have implemented proven strategies to improve community health.

“We were very excited about this,” Vanderwood said. “We have 13 parks available for our community and our trail system is pretty extensive. We also have this good diversity of housing but also have preserved open space and open farmlands and agricultural space.”

Vanderwood said the city also has community gardens to grow healthy food, and in 2024, a farmer’s-type market will be built just off 21st Street where all kinds of healthy goods will be sold.

“We’re going to be building another park — Prevadel Park — just off of 1800 and 12th Street. It will be a beautiful natural park with campgrounds and should be open this spring,” Vanderwood said. “Not only do we have these beautiful parks and trails for our community members, but as I’ve been out walking, I’ve asked people on the trails if they’re from West Haven and I’ve learned a lot of them are from surrounding areas, so a lot of people are utilizing our parks and trails and we really like that.”

West Haven is one of 33 cities recognized for their efforts to provide a healthy community. Other cities include Ogden, Provo, Layton, Fruit Heights and Marriott-Slaterville. Each of the cities has demonstrated a commitment to community health, said Morgan Hadden, program coordinator for Get Healthy Utah.

“Our main criteria is looking for communities that are doing the most work to improve health,” Hadden said. “Another big thing we’re looking at is how equitable they are.”

Hadden said a great example is Ogden City.

“They have been working very hard to improve the quality of their parks. They’ve been improving Lester Park and cleaning it up and will be getting new playground equipment and will be installing a flashing crosswalk so it’s safer to get to the park,” she said. “The city also has community groups that get together to talk about improving the health of disadvantaged neighborhoods and work hard to provide opportunities for those communities to have better access to healthy lifestyles.”

Ogden also has a farmer’s market that accepts SNAP benefits, a community garden and free or low-cost community sports and fitness programs for adults and children.

Hadden said Provo has also made great strides when it comes to providing healthy living opportunities.

“Provo has really done a lot. Their mayor is very active and on the trails a lot and has had a very strong focus on building up the trails,” Hadden said. “They are also looking for opportunities to build fitness equipment along the trails, so you can run and stop and use the equipment and then continue on your run or walk.”

Provo also has a community garden, a farmer’s market that accepts SNAP benefits and an ordinance that requires new subdivisions to provide sidewalks and lights.

The Healthy Utah Community application was recently updated with a renewed emphasis on long-term commitments to health. The new application also makes the designation even more accessible to rural and urban communities of all sizes.

If a city or town isn’t already on the list, Hadden said residents can reach out to local leaders and encourage them to apply. To learn more about what communities did to earn the award, visit gethealthyutah.org/healthyutahcommunity.

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