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Initiative recognizes healthy communities

Communities around the state can now be recognized for their work to become healthier through a new program from the UW School of Medicine and Public Health.

The Wisconsin Healthy Communities Designation is a new initiative offered by the Mobilizing Action Toward Community Health (MATCH) group of the UW Population Health Institute in collaboration with statewide groups. The program, funded by the Wisconsin Partnership Program, is designed to recognize and encourage achievements in health improvement in Wisconsin, and to serve as a guide for communities to expand and enhance their health improvement efforts.

The designation recognizes communities that focus efforts across the multiple factors that influence health including health behaviors, clinical care, social and economic factors, and the physical environment.

"We know that communities that conceptualize health more broadly by examining and working across multiple health factors, and that focus on sustainable solutions, have better outcomes," said Paula Tran Inzeo, director of the MATCH group. "We want to celebrate health improvement efforts in communities around Wisconsin and give communities a concrete way to acknowledge the good work that they are doing."

The program is designed to be accessible to communities of all shapes and sizes, both rural and urban. The definition of community is broad and can include counties, municipalities, neighborhoods and other self-defined, place-based communities in Wisconsin.

Additionally, the program utilizes a three-tiered approach — gold, silver and bronze — which allows communities to apply for the designation level that makes the most sense for them.

"This initiative gives rural communities an opportunity to be recognized for the great work they are doing to improve their own health," said Tim Size, executive director of the Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative, and member of the UW Population Health Institute's advisory board. "Our goal is to give something tangible to communities to hang their hats on and to support their ongoing work for better health."

The Healthy Community Designation program is accepting letters of interest through Feb. 16. Communities will then be invited to submit applications in the spring and designations will be announced in the summer.

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