Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The District Of Columbia Graded "D" for Wellness Initiatives

After a lot of Internet searching and telephone calls to the Mayor's office, it seems to appear that the District of Columbia has a long way to go when it comes to wellness programs for employees and residents within the community. The lack of initiatives seems so strange for a city that is surrounded by health related agencies such as the HHS, the USDA, the CDC, the NHIC, the National Women's Health Information Center and The National Institutes for Health just to name a few!

For those DC residents who can access the web, there is wellness site on the District of Columbia's web page that includes an array of healthy resources. Although a website looks good, it probably does not come close to being handy to the almost 40% of DC residents who are functionally illiterate. DC also records a higher rate of obesity, diabetes, cancer and heart diseases compared to the national average. In addition, a recent national report rating the country for overweight children ages 10 to 17 found The District of Columbia had the highest percentage— 22.8 percent!

For city workers, the District promote discounts to local gyms on the website. Other than that, I could not find one specific employee wellness program in place. There does not seem to be any mandatory health initiative such as health risk assessment, health screenings, incentivized smoking cessation, weight management programs or financial incentives for reaching personal health and fitness goals.

The research was a little more hopeful for the youth of the District. There are many initiatives in the works. One is called AWI Adolescent Wellness Initiative. The goals of the program are to promote positive behavior change to enhance and improve health literacy. Participants are involved in weekly training sessions for nine months of concentrated wellness education with volunteer mentors assigned to them. It will be interesting reviewing the findings and outcomes over the next few years.

If the District does have any wellness programs in place, they obviously are not being promoted. DC needs help and they need it quick! DC - Implement a city wide health promotion program ASAP! If you need more information contact:

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