City recognized as Healthy Weight Community Champion

Award presentation set for March 20 during City Commission meeting

Bayfront Park is popular with walkers and runners. File photo

The City of Sarasota has been recognized by the Florida Department of Health as a Healthy Weight Community Champion, the city has announced.

That honor signifies that city policies and initiatives encourage residents and visitors to embrace a more healthful lifestyle through increased physical activity and improved nutrition, a news release says.

The 2017 Healthy Weight Community Champion Award will be presented by Sarasota County Health Officer Chuck Henry at 6 p.m. on Monday, March 20, during the regular City Commission meeting, the release notes. The session will be held at City Hall, located at 1565 First St. in downtown Sarasota.

“We’re proud to be named a Healthy Weight Community Champion,” said Assistant City Manager John Lege in the release.

Lege oversees the Human Resources and Finance departments, which submitted best practices and documentation for the award, the release explains. The Engineering Division also assisted with the application, the release adds.

“It takes planning and buy-in from the community to create a progressive environment that promotes a healthy lifestyle,” Lege said in the release. “Currently, over 50 parks are located within the city limits,” he continued. “We’re now working toward a goal to have a park within a 10-minute walk for each resident; that underscores the city’s commitment to encouraging a healthier lifestyle.”

Many initiatives approved by the City Commission encourage healthful living, the release points out. For example, policies are in place to promote walkability, the release notes, and safe, walkable pedestrian corridors “are supported between downtown and nearby neighborhoods.” Additionally, wherever right of way is available, bike lanes are added, the release points out.

Further, to encourage the combination of fitness and mobility, the city’s Multi-Use Recreational Trail (MURT) is being extended, the release continues. (Construction is underway on Bird Key to connect the trail from Marina Jack to Coon Key.) Additionally, the city encourages residents to enjoy healthful diets with fresh produce, thanks to its agreements with three farmer’s markets at city-owned venues: downtown, Newtown and Lido Beach, the release says.

The city also supports fitness activities, offering exercise classes for senior citizens in partnership with the Senior Friendship Center, free Yoga in the Park sessions twice a month, and an annual community fitness challenge sponsored by the Robert L. Taylor Community Complex, which the city owns and operates, the release adds.

A total of 80 communities throughout Florida recently were accorded the distinction of Healthy Weight Community Champion, the release points out.