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State and Local Officials Launch Community Transformation Grant Projects in Barnstable County

Barnstable County has joined 48 other Massachusetts municipalities to participate in the Mass in Motion Municipal Wellness and Leadership Program. On February 17, Massachusetts Department of Public Health Commissioner John Auerbach and Barnstable County Commissioners Vice-Chair Sheila Lyons gathered at the Barnstable County Complex for an event to celebrate the recent expansion of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s (MDPH) Mass in Motion Municipal Wellness and Leadership Program.  The expansion, funded by a Community Transformation Grant awarded to MDPH by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, adds Barnstable County communities to the list of 48 other municipalities throughout the Commonwealth participating in the program, including Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard.  Through unique partnerships and cross-department collaboration, Barnstable County communities will work to develop and implement prevention based policies, systems and strategies to encourage healthy eating and active living to help reduce obesity. This work will be led by Barnstable County Department of Human Services.

Community Transformation resources have also been awarded to the Barnstable County Department of Health and Environment to further reduce tobacco use and promote smoke-free multi-unit housing, and the Mid-Upper Cape Community Health Center in Hyannis will participate in a community health center program to implement clinical interventions to reduce high blood pressure and cholesterol with the aim of reducing the incidence of heart disease. Both of these prevention projects also support improvement of the health and wellbeing of Cape and Islands.

 “We are excited to be working throughout Barnstable County to engage lawmakers, town officials, health centers, and the community in helping to make the Cape a vibrant and healthy place to call home,” said Barnstable County Human Services Department Director, Beth Albert. “In addition, this presents the Department of Human Services with a unique opportunity to work together with other Barnstable County departments on Mass In Motion activities, including the Cape Cod Cooperative Extension, Cape Cod Commission and Department of Health and Environment.”  

Mass In Motion initiatives planned for Barnstable County include to increase the enrollment of elementary and middle-schools in the Safe Routes to School program to enhance opportunities for students to walk and bicycle to school; assist schools to implement new MDPH guidelines to improve the nutritional quality of foods and beverages served or available in schools; increase the availability of healthy foods at Cape Cod food pantries; encourage full-service year-round restaurants to include healthy locally grown foods on their menu; and to include specific health elements in enhancing use of Cape Cod walking and bicycling pathways. Reaching lower income and residents from minority linguistic, racial and ethnic populations is also a priority.

Local elected officials and county departments will be working together in the coming months to engage local communities in their efforts.  If you are interested in participating or learning more, contact Christine Clements Stein, Barnstable County Department of Human Services (508) 375-6639 and for information about the tobacco-free living initiative, contact Bob Collett, Director, Cape Cod Regional Tobacco Control Program, at (508) 375-6621.

Photograph, from left to right: Executive Director of the Mid-Upper Cape Health Center, David Ready; Director of the Barnstable County Human Services Department, Beth Albert; Vice-Chair of the Barnstable County Commissioners, Sheila Lyons; Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, John Auerbach; Director of the Massachusetts Bureau of Community Health and Prevention, Cheryl Bartlett; Director of the Cape Cod Regional Tobacco Control Program, Bob Collet; Project Manager for the Barnstable County Mass in Motion Program, Christine Clements-Stein; and Director of the Barnstable Department of Health and Environment, George Heufelder.