LiveWell Campaign Comes to Rotary

by Pat Moynahan on January 18, 2017

live-well-1FLORENCE – Nancy Costello and Lea Beck are trying to raise an army in Northern Kentucky to combat a tenacious public enemy.

The enemy? Poor health habits.

Kentucky stands No. 47 of 50 states in overall health, according to their recruiting literature for LiveWell NKY. And, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ranks the Commonwealth No. 1 in the nation in percentage of adult smokers (25.9 percent).

The heavy artillery for this LiveWell army? Healthy eating, physical activities and tobacco-free environments.

“We’re trying to reach people where they live, work and play,” said Costello, director of Health Initiatives for Skyward, the organization managing the Northern Kentucky strategic plan. “The main factors in overall health are behavior and environment.”

Costello and Beck, health educator with the Northern Kentucky Health Department, took their recruitment campaign to the Florence Rotary Club on Monday, January 9. They outlined the LiveWell NKY initiative in Skyward’s strategic plan for building more vibrant communities over the next five years in the nine northernmost counties in Kentucky.

Their goal is to improve the health of 20,000 adults by 2020. “We all know what we need to do” to accomplish it, Costello said. The challenge is to get people to do it.

Their strategy is what Beck calls “coalition work” – mobilizing businesses, non-profits, faith-based organizations, cities, schools and individuals to enlist in long-term health improvement activities. More than a dozen partners already have signed up, including five cities which received shares of a $100,000 grant from St. Elizabeth Healthcare to launch projects.

Costello said some groups already are on the offensive:

– The Center for Greater Neighborhoods, the Northern Kentucky Incubator Kitchen, Coving10 and LiveWell NKY staged a Community ReSoup dinner for 600 people to gather citizen views on the kinds of foods people would prefer.

– Ft. Mitchell adopted a smoke-free parks resolution and put up signs that say, “Young Lungs at Play.”

Katrina Svach, wellness director at the R.C. Durr YMCA in Burlington, took the battle to the Florence Rotarians. She urged them to develop individual goals for work/life balance. For example, she said, members might set aside a specific time three days a week for activities with their families.

“What makes a difference in the long run is not a one-time activity,” Beck said.

What makes a difference is a sustained march by a coalition of help-minded cities and health-minded citizens.