Lake County wants to expand Gurnee program to get residents off couches
There are no mountains, of course, but can awareness of opportunities for a healthy lifestyle be raised enough to make Lake County akin to a Colorado of the Midwest?
That's the long-range goal as Lake County looks to expand a 'GO' initiative launched in 2016 by the Gurnee Park District to increase community health and wellness.
On Tuesday, health department officials will host a workshop to provide a framework for park districts and leaders representing 12 communities to help residents become more healthy and active by starting GO programs.
"It's sort of like helping them develop their own engagement," said Jon Ashworth, Lake County's health equity coordinator. The session is from 8:30 a.m. to noon at the Lake County Central Permit Facility, 500 W. Winchester Road, Libertyville.
That physical activity can improve health isn't a new concept. But 57 percent of Lake County residents are overweight or obese, according to the health department; engaging them to lower that number is essential.
Saturating the landscape with branded GO initiatives is part of the plan to embed awareness and get people to participate in activities that may vary by community but will be part of a whole.
"We're trying to build momentum in making a cultural shift," Ashworth said. "It's leveraging those ideas under one banner -- that could be pretty powerful."
The health department in 2011 created Live Well Lake County to assess community health and prioritize issues. It works with various entities to improve the health and well-being of residents, such as an ongoing campaign to raise the age to buy tobacco to 21.
But it was the GO Gurnee program launched in May 2016 by the Gurnee Park District -- with variations adopted in Antioch and Waukegan -- that has become the cornerstone of GO Lake County introduced this past January at the Together Summit.
The club now has about 30 active members, according to Jennifer Gilbert, director of marketing and community relations, but wanted to expand those efforts.
"The reality is we aren't very healthy," she said. "That's where we were able to dovetail our efforts."
Representatives from the Lake County Forest Preserve District, Lake County Division of Transporation and Advocate Health Care also will be at Tuesday's workshop.
"I think we would envision five years from now seeing GO Lake County signs all over the place," Ashworth said. "We want that to become more of a cultural norm for Lake County," he added.