July 7, 2008

New Healthy Living Web Site Debuts

By Terry Rindfleisch, La Crosse Tribune, Wis.

Jul. 7--A new Healthy Living Web site will be launched today as part of a community initiative to promote healthy lifestyles.

The Web site -- which can be found at www.rivervalleynewspapers.com/healthyliving -- is intended to be a resource for people looking for health and wellness ideas. One feature of the new site is an interactive calendar that will include fun runs, road and bike races, triathlons and other community events.

Web users will be able to submit items online to be included in the calendar.

The site also includes a Q&A section where people can send questions to be answered by local nutrition experts. Another feature is a healthy Recipe of the Week.

The site also will contain stories and video by the La Crosse Tribune and WXOW-TV, which have been partners in several past Healthy Living projects.

"The Healthy Living effort overall is moving along nicely, and we've made some good connections in the community, said John Smalley, Tribune editor and a member of the Healthy Living planning team.

"And we hope the new Web site will become a useful community resource."

The Web site is a great local tool for anyone interested in making healthy choices, said Sean Dwyer, another team member and WXOW-TV news director.

"It's a community program which offers local health information accessible right from your home PC," Dwyer said.

A Healthy Living team, which was brought together by the La Crosse Area Family YMCA, has been developing a plan designed to help residents engage in more physical activity and eat healthier.

The "Healthy Living / Eat Well, Move More" team met in Washington, D.C., in December to learn strategies about transforming La Crosse into a model healthy community. La Crosse is one of the cities participating in the YMCA Pioneering Healthier Communities initiative.

"This Web site has information for everybody from those already engaged in healthy lifestyles to those seeking help to get healthy and active," said Bill Soper, YMCA executive director and one of the coaches for the Healthy Living project.

"It's an easy Web site to navigate."

Soper said his team is trying to remove barriers and give people easy opportunities to adopt healthy lifestyles.

"We're trying to change the culture of the community and create sustainable change," he said.

Other projects

--GARDENING: The local Healthy Living / Eat Well, Move More team has

created garden plots at YMCA properties in La Crosse and Onalaska, with children and senior citizens working together to grow fresh produce.

--WALKING: The team also is bringing a national walking expert, Mark Fenton, to La Crosse in October. His specialty is walking and biking accessibility in communities, said YMCA executive director Bill Soper.

--SWIMMING: Soper said the YMCA is working with the La Crosse School District to offer swimming lessons to more elementary school children. He said he hopes to have third-graders at Franklin Elementary School take swimming lessons at the Y in the fall.

--CREATING CHANGE: Soper said the project is rooted in the principle that a multi-faceted, community based approach is needed to create sustainable change.

--NATIONAL SCOPE: Pioneering Healthier Communities was launched across the nation in in 2004.

La Crosse was one of 18 communities added last year, bringing the total number of communities to 64.


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