Polk Vision

Polk Vision

A Habit Today = A Lifestyle Tomorrow

BY MARIA IANNUCCI


It was in 2004 that Polk County citizens, led by private, public and civic leaders, joined together in an effort to address some of the most critical issues facing the community and develop a common purpose. Meetings were scheduled and groups were formed to identify strengths and weaknesses along a path to a long-term vision of finding ways to grow in a positive direction. At Polk Vision today, members challenge the community to dare to become a part of setting and attaining goals that include meeting benchmarks in education, economic development and quality of life.

Sara Roberts 1

Sara Roberts, the organization’s Executive Director, is diligently working with her team on several initiatives, but a current focus for Polk Vision is Building a Healthier Polk.Quality of Life Task Force initiated discussion on this topic in late 2011.

“Obesity was a health issue that we could learn more about and discuss as a community,” Roberts said. “To that end, a group of volunteers, led by Linda Hawbaker and Colleen Mangan from the Department of Health, began meeting as a sub-committee of the Quality of Life task force in the spring of 2012. Polk Vision worked with the volunteers to invite a cross-section of

the Polk County community to participate in the half day forum in June, 2012. Physicians, educators, business leaders, health and wellness professionals, planners, sports professionals, and many others came together to discuss ideas to combat obesity in our County. Since that forum, the group developed a six strategy plan, chose the name ‘Building a Healthier Polk’ and meets on a monthly The organization’s basis to learn about what’s happening throughout the county and sharing ideas to promote wellness.”

The vision statement for this is defined as “a three year plan to reduce obesity based on 6 key strategy areas: school based, neighborhood/ community, physicians, work based, higher education, and communications.”

“Our goal for Building a Healthier Polk is to reduce the obesity rate in Polk County to fall below the Florida state average by the fall of 2015,” said Roberts. “The reward will be an alignment with the Florida State Health Improvement Plan and Healthy People 2020 goals.”

The Polk Vision website explains that, “Obesity is costly and is a contributing factor to preventable chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Healthier people have lower health care costs, fewer sick days, fewer days absent from work or school, and are more productive.”

“Polk Vision’s role in this entire process was to bring people together to Learn about obesity, Engage in the forum, Assess the issue and Discuss strategies to lower the obesity rates (LEAD),” said Roberts. “We work to be a catalyst for knowledge and engagement in the issues facing our county and hope that we can galvanize our residents to respond to issues in a positive way, collectively.”

For more information about Polk Vision, to find out more about Building a Healthier Polk or another initiative, or to volunteer, call 863.646.0439 or visit www.polkvision.com.

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