Yes! Earlier in June, the Vermont Department of Health launched “3-4-50,” a new statewide initiative designed to help improve the health of Vermonters by raising awareness of how our habits impact our health. VDH explains that, “3-4-50 signifies the fact that three behaviors – lack of physical activity, poor diet and tobacco use – contribute to four chronic diseases – cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and lung disease – resulting in more than 50 percent of all deaths in Vermont.” Three behaviors. Four chronic diseases. Fifty percent of deaths in Vermont. That is remarkable and unfortunate at the same time! RiseVT was created by the Community Committee on Healthy Lifestyles with the aim of helping Franklin and Grand Isle Counties embrace healthier lifestyles and improve our quality of life and, longer term, reduce healthcare costs where we live, work, learn, and play. We know that being more physically active, eating healthier (and fresher and more local) foods, and avoiding tobacco use are the keys to improved health. 3-4-50 provides a catchy way to remember the significant health problems, including avoidable death, that are tied to these habits.
We know better health is possible. VDH says, “Vermont’s experience with tobacco control is proof. Policies that limit exposure to secondhand smoke, restrictions on tobacco advertising, moving cigarettes behind the counter, and raising the cigarette tax have added up to an environment that favors not smoking, and far fewer Vermonters who choose to smoke.” I am proud that local efforts relating to tobacco use, led by the Franklin Grand Isle Tobacco Coalition, have helped our community steadily bring down our smoking rates in recent years. I am thrilled that our rate of adult smoking in Franklin County is now below the state average. It is not the norm to smoke anymore. Think of the health problems which have been avoided (and the expense related to them) – cancer, asthma, etc. I am particularly proud that youth in our community are involved as well. Not only did youth in Enosburgh help advocate for Vermont’s recent regulations on e-cigarettes, but the latest data release from the State shows youth smoking is down in the Enosburg/Richford area! Those kids are practicing what they are preaching – and that is an incredible sign of a healthier future ahead!
Meanwhile, the fun and positive momentum within RiseVT continues to build! We have seen more than 12,000 individuals engage with RiseVT – along with 44 businesses, 15 schools, and 9 municipalities. There is a lot of interesting in embracing healthier lifestyles and so much of it aligns with 3-4-50!
The “show up” events have restarted in Taylor Park in St. Albans. What are you doing each Wednesday morning at 6:00am? Why not spare a few minutes and start your day with a bit of laughter and exercise? We have had more than 30 people “showing up” in the park to enjoy physical activity that is shaped for all ages and abilities. The RiseVT crew is very welcoming and there are always new faces “showing up” so you will not be out of place at all. Please join the fun and show up! I am excited that “show up” events will also soon be coming to other towns in our area, starting with Swanton and Enosburg! Stay tuned! If you just cannot bring yourself to walk or run at 6:00 in the morning, there are 23 other hours in the day! In addition to the sidewalks and tracks throughout our community, we are fortunate to have a wonderful array of trails and walking paths in northwestern Vermont. Go to Pinterest.com and search for the RiseVT page. You will find a whole page devoted to local trails. You will find information and photos on many of the trails in our area, including the Highgate Recreation Path; St. Albans’ Hard’Ack Park’s tails; the Missisquoi Valley Rail Trail that stretches from Richford to St. Albans; the Brownway River Trail in Enosburg Falls; the Fairfax Recreation Trail; the Chester Arthur Trail in Fairfield; the Fit and Healthy Recreation Path in Swanton; and the Alburgh Recreation Trail. These are each wonderful places to walk, free from traffic, and all accessible for all ages! And watch for a new and more comprehensive map of local trails and other resources coming to the RiseVT website soon!
It is time to Rise! Join the fun! Come to a show up event! Find us at a community event! Visit www.RiseVT.com and learn more about this wonderful community effort. Get started by filling out a person scorecard, celebrating what you are doing well, and pick something to try as you join so many others in embracing a healthier lifestyle. You will be happier and healthier because of it!
— Jill Berry Bowen, NMC’s Chief Executive Officer