Category Archives: Live Well Stories

Tips on safe travel during the holidays from the Traffic Safety Education Project!

The holiday season is here! For many of us, this time of year is filled with baking, decorating, and cleaning for holiday get-togethers. While it is a time for parties and celebrations, the holiday season can be busy and stressful. You can keep from adding to that stress by staying safe while traveling this season. For Allegheny County Health Department’s Traffic Safety Education Project, ensuring that drivers are prepared and knowledgeable about winter travel is a priority.

The goal of the Traffic Safety Education Project (TSEP) is to reduce local injuries and deaths due to avoidable vehicle crashes. TSEP staff utilize state-approved curriculum to provide educational programming on a variety of traffic safety topics, including car seat usage, aggressive and distracted driving, and seat belt safety. TSEP also offers educational programming for audiences ranging from elementary students to mature drivers.

For TSEP staff, ensuring that drivers understand how important it is to stay safe on the road during the holiday season and winter months is crucial. The holiday season is a major concern for those in the traffic safety field due to the high levels of travel during the winter holidays. While the number of cars on the road skyrocket during this time of the year, the temperature also plummets making road conditions hazardous. This is also commonly paired with drowsy driving, which creates a dangerous situation for both passengers and others on the road. Additionally, drunk driving becomes more of a concern during the holiday season due to holiday parties and celebrations.

Fortunately, our friends at TSEP have some tips and tricks for staying safe on the roads throughout the winter months. Remembering the basics of safe driving is a surefire way to stay safe. Utilizing a seat belt regardless of the distance, avoiding aggressive driving behaviors, and avoiding distracted driving will help maintain safety. In terms of driving in the winter months, TSEP staff recommend checking your tire tread to ensure that it is season appropriate, being aware of changing weather conditions, and keeping an emergency kit in your car. Last, but certainly not least, do not drive impaired. Use a designated and sober driver to get to and from your destination during the holidays, and all times of the year.

From everyone at Live Well Allegheny and TSEP we hope you have a fun and safe holiday season!

Live Well Allegheny, Tobacco Free Allegheny Celebrate Tobacco Cessation Week

November 10, 2017

PITTSBURGH – Live Well Allegheny, Tobacco Free Allegheny and supporting partners are joining together for the third annual Allegheny Quits for Life week in Allegheny County this November 12-18. The week is dedicated to promoting tobacco cessation and healthy activities.

“Smoking rates have been on the decline in Allegheny County; however, 19% of county residents smoke, and that number is still far too high,” said Dr. Karen Hacker, Director of the Health Department. “Decreasing smoking is a primary objective of our Live Well Allegheny campaign, and we strive to achieve that goal. For those who smoke, consider quitting this week. There are lots of options for cessation that can make all the difference for you and your loved ones.”

Allegheny Quits for Life will entail a week-long series of events and communications designed to support residents’ efforts to quit smoking. Its kickoff event will be “Merengue Monday,” presented in partnership with the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, and the event will be held at Katz Plaza (7th and Penn Avenue) at noon on November 13. All events are aimed at helping individuals stop tobacco use and to learn to live healthier lifestyles. (In the event of inclement weather, the event will be moved to the Grand Staircase/Gallery in the Allegheny County Courthouse.)

Allegheny Quits for Life also coincides with the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout, being held on Thursday, November 16, when smokers are encouraged to quit for the day. By quitting, even for just one day, smokers will be taking an important step towards a healthier life and reducing their cancer risk.

The Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) encourages participants to share their messages about Allegheny Quits for Life on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram throughout the week, using the following hashtags: #WhyIQuit, #AlleghenyQuitsForLife and #HowDoYouLiveWell.

If you or someone you know wants free help to quit smoking, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669). The PA Free Quitline offers personalized coaching sessions and free nicotine replacement therapy (patches, gum or lozenges), as available. Sign-ups can be done online at paquitlogix.org. In addition, local resources can be found on the Tobacco Free Allegheny website at: http://tobaccofreeallegheny.org/Where_to_get_help.asp.

More about Tobacco Free Allegheny

Tobacco Free Allegheny (TFA) was established on June 17, 2002 to administer and manage the comprehensive tobacco prevention and cessation program in Allegheny County. TFA is a non-profit organization supported by the PA Department of Health and governed by a Board of Directors. The mission of TFA is to change the community norms surrounding tobacco use to make it uncommon to see, use or be negatively impacted by tobacco or tobacco smoke pollution (secondhand smoke). For more information, visit: www.tobaccofreeallegheny.org.

More about Pittsburgh Cultural Trust

The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust has helped to transform a downtrodden section of downtown into a world-class Cultural District that stands as a national model of urban revitalization through the arts. Touring Broadway, contemporary dance, family events, education and community engagement programs, and cutting-edge visual arts are among the variety of arts and entertainment the Trust presents and exhibits. Hundreds of artists, thousands of students, and millions of people expand their horizons in our theaters, galleries, and public art environments. For more information, visit https://trustarts.org/.

American Diabetes Association of Western PA hosts Pittsburgh Diabetes Expo!

Did you know that November is Diabetes Awareness Month? Throughout November, organizations are working to raise awareness of the risk factors associated with diabetes, as well as prevention and management tactics and tips for living with diabetes. Diabetes, like most chronic diseases, can be daunting. It is a disease that affects millions of Americans. In western PA alone, 400,000 people have been diagnosed with diabetes. Additionally, it is estimated that over one million western Pennsylvanians are at risk for developing diabetes in their lifetime. (Interested in learning more about your risk for diabetes? Take the American Diabetes Association’s risk test!) Although diabetes is so prevalent, for most of us, gathering and interpreting information about diabetes is confusing and overwhelming. Diabetes Awareness Month serves as a platform to highlight helpful information and provide clarity on the disease.

To provide a one stop shop for resources related to diabetes prevention and management, the American Diabetes Association of Western Pennsylvania, a Live Well Allegheny Community Partner, is hosting its annual Pittsburgh Diabetes Expo in November. The Expo is being held on November 4th at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in downtown Pittsburgh. The free event is an information hub for resources about diabetes, as well as general health and wellness. Topics range from healthy cooking recipes, to tips on living with diabetes, to alternative types of physical activity. Free health screenings will also be available during the Expo. To learn more about diabetes, be sure to come out on November 4th, to get some clarity and helpful tips from our friends at the Diabetes Association of Western PA!

Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC Named a Live Well Allegheny Workplace

October 12, 2017

PITTSBURGH – The Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) designated Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC as its newest Live Well Allegheny Workplace, it was announced today.

Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC has been a fixture in our community for more than 120 years and has always focused upon the health and well-being of our region’s children, so it’s no surprise that they’ve joined the Live Well Allegheny effort,” said County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. “Having a partner that is so substantial – more than one million outpatient visits, 12,000 inpatient stays, 9,600 observation stays, 147,000 emergency and Express Care visits, and 23,300 surgical procedures – is no small accomplishment and I commend ACHD and Children’s for working together to make us the healthiest county in the country.”

Children’s Hospital takes pride in focusing on employee health and culture. At the main hospital, all employees have access to the Children’s Fitness Center. A Wellness Committee, comprised of employees, offers educational sessions on a variety of health-related topics and event. The committee also encourages all employees to take regular walks around the campus daily. In addition, Children’s is a tobacco-free campus, and the hospital provides healthy food choices in its cafeteria and in vending machines.

“I am very pleased to bring Children’s Hospital on board as the newest Live Well Allegheny Workplace,” said Dr. Karen Hacker, Health Department Director. “Children’s Hospital is striving to improve the health of their employees through a variety of exciting efforts. We look forward to working together to help improve the health of all Allegheny County residents.”

Children’s moved to a new campus in May 2009, and developed a “green” campus with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification for the main hospital and John G. Rangos Sr. Research Center. The buildings incorporate natural light and employ energy, water, materials and land as efficiently as possible.

“Our physicians, nurses and support staff who are among leaders in their fields make Children’s a world-class pediatric facility, and we are proud to have a hospital that is healthy, innovative and environmentally sustainable for patients, families, and all staff,” said Christopher Gessner, President, Children’s Hospital. “We strive to create a work environment that enables and fosters healthy living behaviors for everyone.”

Children’s also has used more than 30 measures to design one of the quietest hospitals in the world, which includes acoustic ceiling tile in lieu of hard ceilings; special use of carpeting and door seals; silent notification for nurse call through integration of wireless communication devices; and use of personal communication devices in lieu of overhead paging.

“As committed as Children’s Hospital is to the healthy lifestyles of our employees, we also are very proud of our continued and valued partnership with area schools and out-of-school time providers to advance healthful lifestyle choices for students, including adding physical activity and healthful eating into their daily routine,” said Anne Marie Kuchera, Director, Children’s Community Health. “We have helped over 60 schools and 70 after school programs throughout the region create healthier environments for students.”

Participants in the Live Well Allegheny campaign work with the Health Department’s staff. While monetary resources are not part of the initiative, participating workplaces can receive materials, information and collateral items to promote the campaign and their individual efforts to “Live Well.”

Live Well Allegheny was launched by County Executive Fitzgerald in January 2014 as a comprehensive, innovative strategy on wellness that embraces a broad concept of living well to include physical health, mental wellness, personal and community safety, prevention and preparedness, and much more. The effort is being led by the Board of Health and Dr. Hacker.

Students at Curtisville Primary Center Learn about Locally Grown Apples!

Have you ever thought about how our fruits and vegetables are grown? How farmers grow those perfectly crisp apples? Or even, how many of those apples grow on one tree? These were the questions that first grade students at Curtisville Primary Center in the Deer Lakes School District, a Live Well Allegheny School, had for local apple farmer, Jeff Norman. Thanks to the school’s Farmer Direct Series, they had a chance to get some answers.

On October 2, Mr. Norman of Norman’s Orchard, located in Tarentum, spent the morning teaching first graders the ins-and-outs of the apple-growing business. Students had the opportunity to learn about different varieties of apples that are local to Western Pennsylvania. Mr. Norman also talked to the students about planting and harvesting, differences in varieties and ways to cook apples. He answered many questions about the specifics of growing and operating an orchard. And at the end of the presentation, students enjoyed a snack of Norman’s Orchard apples and caramel dip.

The visit from Mr. Norman was part of Curtisville Primary Center’s Farmer Direct Series. Local farmers are invited to visit the school and talk to students about farming practices and local produce. Through the Farmer Direct Series students can learn from a different type of farmer every month. This provides an opportunity for students to make a connection between the fruits and vegetables they eat and the growing practices of local farmers.

The Farmer Direct Series is just one piece of a larger wellness initiative at Curtisville Primary Center. For Principal Jennifer Cavalancia, incorporating lessons about nutrition and wellness is an important piece of the curriculum. The students at Curtisville Primary Center do not just learn about nutrition and wellness in the classroom, they get down in the dirt. They have helped plant fruit trees in the school yard and have grown lettuce and herbs in tower gardens. School wellness initiatives can provide creative methods for peaking kids’ interest in fruits and vegetables. We are very excited to see schools like Curtisville Primary Center prioritizing health and wellness in education!

West Homestead Ice Skates in August!

West Homestead Borough, a Live Well Allegheny Community, found a fun way to encourage physical activity during its Community Day that took place on August 19th at Calhoun Community Park. Residents could ice skate outside in the summer on an all-weather ice rink. Experienced skaters brought their own ice skates for free sharpening before they hit the ice, and others rented ice skates so beginners and experts could skate together on a rink with snow machine, lights and music.

This activity was a project of the Live Well Allegheny Mon Valley Initiative. Funded by the Jefferson Regional Foundation, the initiative promotes the Live Well Allegheny campaign specifically in the south hills and Monongahela River valley. Municipalities and school districts in the region can apply for mini-grants up to $500 to promote Live Well Allegheny in their community. The funding is intended to implement a new program that the school or community has been thinking about or to add a healthier component to something that exists, like community day events. Community days are a great way to celebrate the places we live.

Communities and schools are getting creative with the mini-grants by encouraging activities that will increase access to fresh and healthy food, increase physical activity and decrease smoking. We are very excited to see how West Homestead Borough is creatively being active and living well.

Several New Live Well Allegheny Designations

August 17, 2017

PITTSBURGH –  The Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) announced today that one municipality, one school district, two workplaces and four restaurants have been designated as part of the Live Well Allegheny campaign during the past month. This brings the total to 49 communities, 13 school districts, 13 workplaces and 41 restaurants that are making health a priority in Allegheny County.

“In order to reach our goal of making Allegheny County the healthiest county for all residents it takes all of us doing our part to make healthy choices where we live, learn, work and eat,” said Dr. Karen Hacker, Director. “I am so pleased to be able that these organizations are joining with us in our efforts, and thank them for each contributing to Live Well Allegheny.”

Live Well Allegheny Community

Mount Oliver Borough is committed to sharing information on wellness campaign events with the broader community to encourage the voluntary participation of residents, encourage multi-modal transportation of residents by providing facilities or policies that encourage walking and bike riding with a specific focus on making good connections to municipal parks and promoting and their farmer’s market.

Live Well Allegheny School District

The Elizabeth Forward School District’s commitment began with a community garden that is farmed by elementary students at Greenock Elementary School and a summer enrichment class called, “Little Sprouts.” The class teaches children about growing and cultivating a garden as well as how to prepare the food that they grow. They also participate in “Cooking Matters” classes with parents sponsored by 412 Food Rescue, conduct several food drives and have a “Food Cupboard” at the school that provide food items for the neediest families. Additionally, the district provides healthy lunches and snacks for students. In the future, the district plans to conduct community surveys and to expand gardens to other schools in the district.

Live Well Allegheny Workplace

PITT OHIO has a robust workplace wellness program that includes offering healthy food and snacks for purchase in its cafeteria and in vending machines, and makes those same options available during company meetings and events. Employees have access to comprehensive health insurance including dental and eye care and preventative care without copays. The business has also established a tobacco-free workplace policy which includes cessation services, and is creating and sponsoring employee athletic teams and activities. To underscore PITT OHIO’s focus on health and wellness, a health and wellness coordinator has been in place since October 2015. In addition to providing resources, the workplace also provides annual Health Risk Assessments, a before-work stretching program, weight-loss competitions, group challenges and walking events.

TCV Community Services offers its employees healthy food options in vending machines, a private area for breastfeeding employees, well-lit and safe stairwells, and access to water fountains dispensers and coolers on site. Moving forward, the workplace will be considering consider a tobacco and smoke-free work campus. The organization is also exploring the integration of health and wellness policies into its organizational structure through the adoption of a healthy food policy, a policy to support breastfeeding employees, the use of financial incentives to encourage participation in health improvement activities, potential health-club discounts for employees, and will provide or ensure that employees have access to comprehensive health insurance including dental and eye care in addition to preventive care without co-pays. Employees have access to health education information and are encouraged to participate in screenings including those for body mass index, obesity, and blood pressure.

Live Well Allegheny Restaurant

The leadership of each of these restaurants has committed to providing healthy options for customers, information on which can be found on the Live Well Allegheny Restaurants page.

Participants in the Live Well Allegheny campaign work with Health Department’s staff. While monetary resources are not part of the initiative, participating workplaces can receive materials, information and collateral items to promote the campaign and their individual efforts to live well.

Live Well Allegheny was launched in January 2014 by County Executive Rich Fitzgerald as a comprehensive, innovative strategy on wellness that embraces a broad concept of living well to include physical health, mental wellness, personal and community safety, prevention and preparedness, and much more. The effort is being led by the Board of Health and Health Department Director Dr. Karen Hacker.

Sharpsburg Passes Complete Streets Resolution

On July 25th Sharpsburg Borough, a Live Well Allegheny Community, passed a Complete Streets resolution.  A Complete Streets resolution indicates that the municipality will focus on building a healthy community by making its streets safer for all types of users including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and public transit users. More information on the effort can be found here: https://smartgrowthamerica.org/program/national-complete-streets-coalition/what-are-complete-streets/.

We talked to Councilwoman Brittany Reno about why Sharpsburg passed a Complete Streets resolution. She highlighted the fact that the community has many residents who rely on walking, cycling, and public transit to get where they need to go. Since Sharpsburg is beginning to experience more private and public investment, it is important to ensure that future development in the borough improves the overall quality of life and safety for all residents and visitors of Sharpsburg, not just motorists.

Sharpsburg has several upcoming projects that will be important to implementing Complete Streets in the borough, Councilwoman Reno said, including a redesign for the Main Street business district streetscape. With this project, they are critically considering accessibility, safety, pedestrian experience, and traffic flow improvements.

The councilwoman also told us that educating the community about Complete Streets has spurred positive dialogue between residents and business owners. Since most residents and business owners in Sharpsburg agree that creating safer streets for people of all ages and all methods of transportation is worthwhile, they have seen a lot of support and excitement around Complete Streets.

We are excited to see Sharpsburg’s commitment to this initiative and look forward to supporting this Live Well Community as they take their next steps to creating Complete Streets across the municipality.

Sleep is Important to Living Well

Did you know that getting enough sleep is important to your health and well-being? According to Healthy People 2020, adequate sleep helps to: fight infection, support metabolism of sugar to prevent diabetes, perform well in school and at work. Most adults should get between 7-9 hours of sleep each night to be well rested and ready for the day. If you find yourself struggling to fall asleep or get restful sleep, follow the steps below:

1.Decrease your screen time.

The blue light from your TV, computer, and cell phone screens messes with your body’s natural sleep/wake patterns, making it more difficult to fall asleep when you lay down at night. Try unplugging from technology at least 30 minutes before you plan to go to bed. If you can’t unplug, another option is to get an app that will help control the blue light coming from your tech devices after the sun goes down for your computer or iphone or for your android device.

2. Add relaxing activities to your nightly routine.

Your bedtime routine doesn’t have to stop at brushing your teeth! Add in some stretching or deep breathing to calm your mind and your muscles to prepare your body for sleep.

3. Try to keep a regular sleep schedule.

Use this awesome bedtime calculator to find out when is best for you to go to sleep at night. After you know when you should be going to bed based on when you need to wake up, try to keep a consistent schedule.

4. Exercise!

If you need another reason to start exercising, here it is! Research shows that for those who have trouble sleeping, exercise may help people fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer, and have better sleep quality than before they began exercising regularly.

5. Reserve your bedroom for relaxation and sleeping

Try to only do relaxing activities in your bedroom. Avoid bringing homework, work-related tasks, violent television or games, etc. into your bedroom. Get a comfortable mattress, pillow, and bedding and keep your room dimly lit for a better sleep atmosphere.

Check out sleepfoundation.org for more great sleep tips!

American Heart Association, Allegheny County Team Up to Build Culture of Health

March 14, 2017

Challenge: BP Aims to Raise Awareness and Lower Blood Pressure of Residents

PITTSBURGH – The American Heart Association (AHA) and Allegheny County, through its Live Well Allegheny initiative, have partnered to present Challenge: BP, an effort designed to encourage communities, organizations and workplaces to help control high blood pressure of county residents.

“We are recruiting and working with workplaces and community based organizations to provide them with evidence-based tools and resources to empower their employees and members to take control of their blood pressure. This community-wide challenge builds the idea that we are all in this together, and that we can achieve our goals together as a community,” said Deb Banks, Executive Director of the American Heart Association, Greater Pittsburgh Region. “We are encouraging communities, organizations and workplaces to take on this challenge to live healthier, and managing your blood pressure is a good first step.”

Nearly 80 million adults have high blood pressure (HBP or hypertension).  HBP has no symptoms and is often referred to as the silent killer. High blood pressure is one the leading risk factors of cardiovascular disease and stroke. In Allegheny County, the number of deaths from cardiovascular disease is higher than the state and national average.

“When we launched Live Well Allegheny, it was with the idea that our stakeholders and partners could help shape and guide the efforts that we were undertaking through their own interests and expertise. That is certainly the case with this partnership with the American Heart Association,” said County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. “Working cooperatively with the AHA and all of our stakeholders, partners, communities, schools and workplaces to talk about the need to be aware of high blood pressure and the steps that we can all take to reduce that risk is an important part of a healthy community.”

The goal of Challenge: BP is to empower participants to take ownership of their cardiovascular health, and to lower blood pressure by 10 points on average as a community.

“We know that hypertension is a leading cause of heart disease and stroke. Some of our communities are disproportionately impacted,” said Dr. Karen Hacker, Director of the Allegheny County Health Department. “This collaborative effort with the AHA will encourage communities and workplaces to participate in improving the culture of health. It’s the hallmark of the Live Well Allegheny campaign.”

According the American Heart Association, a normal blood pressure is less than 120/80.  While there is no cure for HBP, using medication as prescribed and making positive lifestyle changes can help enhance your quality of life and reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and more.

Companies already participating in the inaugural year include Gateway Health who will be offering blood pressure management programs to their members; and Giant Eagle/Market District pharmacy locations, where you can take part in their blood pressure management programs.  Other workplaces engaged in this challenge so far are CCAC, MARC USA, Teletech, Veteran Leadership Program of Western PA, all of which will be offering blood pressure management programs to their employees.

Workplaces and community organizations can sign up free of charge to participate in Challenge: BP until March 31, 2017.  This challenge period is from March through November 30, 2017.  A new cycle will start in 2018. The American Heart Association will provide free tools and resources to assist your group with the challenge. Participating entities will be recognized at the end of the program, and they will be able to nominate an outstanding member who made significant changes in their lifestyle to improve their health.

For more information on Challenge: BP, visit  www.heart.org/Pittsburgh or the Challenge: BP page.  To register your organization or workplace, email the American Heart Association at ChallengeBP@heart.org.

Follow the conversation and stay connected using #challengeBP, #AHAPGH and  #howdoyoulivewell

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About the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association:

The American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association are devoted to saving people from heart disease and stroke – the two leading causes of death in the world. We team with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies, and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat these diseases. The Dallas-based American Heart Association is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. The American Stroke Association is a division of the American Heart Association. To learn more or to get involved, call 1-800-AHA-USA1, visit heart.org or call any of our offices around the country. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

American Heart Association/American Stroke Association
444 Liberty Avenue │ Suite 1300 │ Pittsburgh, PA 15222
Phone: 412-208-3550