The Town of Smyrna is one of five municipalities that were honored May 20 by Gov. Jack Markell in a ceremony at the Sewell C. Biggs Museum in Dover for the town’s respective efforts in championing the health and well-being of their communities.
Markell’s Council on Health Promotion and Disease Prevention and the Delaware Coalition for Healthy Eating and Active Living (DE HEAL) recognized Dover, Newark, Seaford, Fenwick Island and Smyrna with the Delaware Recognition for Community Health Promotion Award.
“It’s important to encourage wellness as a way of life, especially to prevent chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer and obesity,” said Markell. “Healthy communities are critically important because they promote healthy behaviors such as being physically active, eating healthy foods and portions, avoiding tobacco, and enabling persons with limited mobility and disabilities to receive needed services.”
The award is given to Delaware municipalities that incorporate health promotion as an integral part of infrastructure, address policy and practice changes related to healthy living and environments, and promote and implement innovative approaches that are sustainable and replicable.
Councilwoman Andrea Rodriguez and a team of town employees prepared the application, which was scored based on self-reported assessments of efforts to enhance access to services, encourages positive behavioral changes and improves community health.
“Smyrna is home to such a wide array of beautiful parks, trails, and opportunities for recreational enjoyments,” Rodriguez said. “There is an outdoors activity suitable for every fitness level here in Smyrna. We encourage all citizens to get active, adopt a less sedentary routine, and make healthier lifestyle choices.”
Smyrna received a bronze level of the award. The town received the award for numerous steps taken to improve the quality of life in Smyrna. Zoning amendments have been approved to create attractive streetscaping and pedestrian friendly environments. Energy-efficient LED lighting is being installed along the Bicycle and Walking Trail at Smyrna High School. Town properties are smoke-free. Smyrna’s Route 13 Corridor Plan promotes a liveable and walkable environment. Moreover, the Smyrna Farmers Market will enter its third season this year.
Mayor Joanne Masten is ecstatic about receiving the Healthy Community Award.
“I think with what has been kicked off with our Parks and Recreation Committee and the tour of the town infrastructure and town parks along with lighting at the bike trail, which was paid for by Sen. [Bruce] Ennis and Rep. [Bill] Carson, that this is just the start,” Masten said. “We are well on our way to hopefully win this award again next year.”
Rita Landgraf, secretary of Delaware Health and Social Services (DHSS), said the five towns honored with the award set examples of ways to engage community members to lead healthier lifestyles. Nearly two-thirds of Delaware adults and more than a third of Delaware’s children have an unhealthy weight; the state’s diabetes incidence rate is also rising.
“People’s health is impacted by much more than just a regular visit to the doctor. For every dollar spent on preventing chronic disease, we save $5.60 on health care costs,” said Dr. Karyl Rattay, Division of Public Health. “Under the leadership of these communities, Delaware is building a truly healthy infrastructure that will benefit the state for years to come.”