Category Archives: Partner Spotlight

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:

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.

Allegheny County’s DHS Hosts Biggest Loser Workplace Challenge

June 1, 2017

PITTSBURGH – Our most recent Live Well Allegheny story comes from a county department that has made the commitment to supporting the health of their employees. The Department of Human Services (DHS) is taking steps to create a culture of workplace wellness. Most recently, DHS employees have been participating in a 12-week Biggest Loser competition! Twenty-nine employees participated in Season 1 of DHS Biggest Loser, which took place between January 3rd and March 24th.  The participants collectively lost over 450 pounds (an average of sixteen pounds per participant), with four participants losing over thirty pounds each.

The top “loser” described his approach to shedding 49 pounds:

“Well, first I’ll say it is 100% mental. I started by finding out my recommended calorie intake per day.  There are many free websites for this.  I just Googled it and picked one. My recommended intake is around 2,100 calories per day. I try to stay at or below that each day. I also went from having minimal exercise throughout the week to doing an hour of cardio six days a week. I switch between the treadmill and the elliptical. I typically use it as an opportunity to catch up on sports, or watch a television show.”

In addition to being leaner, the participant also acknowledged being able to sleep better at night.

The program emphasizes the importance of healthy food choices and increased exercise. All participants are part of a private Office 365 group, where they can voluntarily share tips, recipes, and other resources and encouragement. In addition, the program seeks to foster a culture of wellness by sponsoring informational talks, tours of local gyms, and lunchtime walks. The opportunity to be part of this supportive community is one incentive to participate.

DHS Biggest Loser Season 2 began on April 18th.  Over 40 employees are now participating and looking to build upon the success of Season 1!

Please take a moment to watch this video featuring the stories of a few Season 1 participants:

If you’d like more information about the Biggest Loser competition at DHS, please contact Eddy Jones at

Go Out and Play for Healthy Communities

Wouldn’t it be great if there were one thing that could improve academic performance, decrease childhood obesity, spur creativity and innovation, invigorate local economies with investment, all while reducing stress and anxiety?  Would it surprise you to know that “play” has been linked to these benefits? While play alone may not be a silver bullet to addressing these concerns, it is certainly a vital component to healthy and engaged communities.

The Playful Pittsburgh Collaborative

The Playful Pittsburgh Collaborative is a group of committed individuals and organizations dedicated to advancing the importance of play in the lives of children, families and communities in the Pittsburgh region.

Beginning in 2013 through informal conversations about the value of play between leaders from Pittsburgh Association for The Education of Young Children (PAEYC), Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, Carnegie Museum of Art, and Kids Plus Pediatrics, the Playful Pittsburgh Collaborative has grown from four founding members to include 22 member organizations in the Pittsburgh region.

Members of the collaborative work to advocate for play in each of our diverse fields. We come together to host play conversation events, present our city’s case for play at national conferences, raise awareness about play through community events, and demonstrate how play can be used as a catalyst for community development through projects like our work on the Greater Hazelwood Play Trail and Braddock’s Recycle Park.

Greater Hazelwood Play Trail

Through a multi-year process of community engagement and planning what Hazelwood may look like if it were the “neighborhood of play,” the Greater Hazelwood Play Trail is beginning to take shape. Linking together different playful areas in the neighborhood, the trail will serve as a reminder that play can happen anywhere.

In September 2016, a vacant lot turned playground at 5113 Lytle Street was the first in a series of sites along the greater Hazelwood Play Trail to receive an injection of creativity and play. With generous support from the Heinz Endowments, the Playful Pittsburgh Collaborative, PAEYC, and the Hazelwood Initiative partnered with KaBOOM! to bring together a group of over 160 volunteers to build a playground in a single day.

In coming months, the former site of the Elizabeth Street Playground, now a paved lot, will begin its transformation into a playful parklet featuring new gardens, public art, and space for community programing.

See Play in Action! Join us for Ultimate Play Day

This year, the 5th Annual Ultimate Play Day will be held on Sunday, April 30, 2017 from 1-4 pm in Allegheny Commons East Park in the Northside. Members from the Playful Pittsburgh Collaborative will bring a variety of activities that highlight the value and importance of play as an essential part of living well.

Attendees of all ages can begin to experience firsthand the benefits of play and will leave with ideas to encourage play in their own lives. The event is free and open to the public.

Keep Play in Mind

Everyone can benefit from dedicating a small part of each day to play! Visit the website to learn more and stay connected through the e-newsletter at

For more information about the Playful Pittsburgh Collaborative, contact Teresa Pizzella at

How Two Local Organizations Are Reshaping Pittsburgh’s Employee Health

PITTSBURGH — The last time you went to one of the many YMCA locations in Allegheny County, you may have seen something in the window indicating that they are a Live Well Allegheny Workplace. It’s a simple window cling, but it symbolizes the YMCA’s dedication to the health and well-being of both its employees and community. In partnership with Live Well Allegheny, the YMCA has improved employee health and even saved a person’s life.

The Associate Vice President of Healthy Living, Gretchen North, and Shannon Vargesko, the Y’s HR Coordinator and Healthy Living Assistant Project Coordinator reflected on their long-time partnership with Live Well Allegheny. “It just made sense…the YMCA is known for healthy living and social responsibility,” said North when asked about the partnership with Live Well Allegheny. This inspired the Y to put their mission first and “walk the walk” for their employees and community at large. On September 6, 2016, the YMCA of Greater Pittsburgh became the fourth worksite to be designated as a Live Well Allegheny Workplace.

The YMCA has been making the health and well-being of its employees and the community a priority for a long time. It’s their mission. The message the organization sends to its employees is that they are invested in them as well as our community. This is what brought them to partner with the Live Well Allegheny campaign.

According to Vargesko, the YMCA has made several changes, big and small, to its approach to employee health. From healthier choices in vending machines to full campaigns encouraging healthier living, our county’s Y has made real changes worthy of replicating. Vargesko mentioned several healthy campaigns for employees, including the “Renew, Restore, Re-You” campaign. The program asked employees to pick a relaxing activity they normally do not participate in and do it once a week. One employee reported having reuniting with a friend she had not spoken to in over ten years because she chose to reconnect with former friends as her activity. Vargesko said it “increased [employee] morale, but also their joy in this hustle and bustle society.”

While the Y’s employee health campaigns are working, it’s reasonable to ask how an organization with fewer resources could weave Live Well Allegheny’s values into their workplace. North had a possible idea. “We’re fortunate to already have exercise equipment and trainers and dieticians,” North said, “but being an employer who wants to invest in its employees’ health can be much simpler.” The YMCA offers bi-annual health screenings and CO2 monitoring for free. North reported that through these routine procedures an employee and lifetime non-smoker found she had dangerously low levels of carbon dioxide. She was then able to get medical help, which led to open heart surgery. That simple, free screening, offered by her employer, saved her life.

Allegheny County’s YMCA and their partnership with Live Well Allegheny shows how a workplace can care and invest in their employees’ health. Ultimately, improving employee health aids in improving community health. Employees are people with families and friends, who may notice how much less stressed they are. Vargesko reports, “less stress, clarity,” are many of the terms used by employees in post-campaign surveys.

Live Well Allegheny’s main goal is to improve the overall health of its citizens and, ultimately, become the healthiest county in the United States. This is a lofty goal, and only possible with collaboration, including communities, workplaces, restaurants and schools. Live Well Allegheny hopes to provide support for these partnerships. Something as simple as having that window cling has “helped our reputation…and serves as a reminder to employees and community members that health is a priority,” said North. The YMCA is a great example of how a Live Well Allegheny Workplace can invest in employee health in simple, but effective ways.

Bringing Together Community Partners to Build a Culture of Health

February 2, 2017

PITTSBURGH – On January 10, 2017, we kicked off the Live Well Learning Collaborative with an in-person meeting that was open to all Live Well Allegheny members and partners. The Live Well Learning Collaborative convenes participants and share the what, where, why, and how of implementing health initiatives. Eighty-five participants representing 47 different Live Well Allegheny partners attended. The purpose was first to discuss Health in All Policies and how to apply it to different organizations, to showcase Live Well Allegheny partner initiatives and to encourage participants to identify future action steps for their organizations.

There were three different sessions during the Learning Collaborative meeting. During Session # 1, attendees engaged in a presentation from the Health Department Director Dr. Karen Hacker and staff members about using a Health in All Policies approach to their organization.  They also heard from Chris “Steel” Edmonds from the Athletic Trauma Unit about his journey to health as a former NFL player.

In Session # 2, participants had an opportunity to learn from other Live Well Allegheny members that have collaborated to successfully implement health initiatives. Lastly, participants had an opportunity to think about the future of Live Well Allegheny in Session # 3. Working in small groups, participants completed activities to provide feedback about priorities for the Learning Collaborative and brainstorm new ways to reach our goal of becoming the healthiest county in the United States.

The Learning Collaborative will build capacity for Live Well Allegheny members by providing information at upcoming events, webinars, and newsletters. To learn more about the event, please check out the page on our website.

Interested in hosting a Live Well Learning Collaborative workshop in the future? Please contact Erica Bryson at or (412) 247-7964.

Municipality of Monroeville Receives Live Well Allegheny Designation

May 26, 2016

Announcement made at Celebration of National Senior Health & Fitness Day

Live_Well_MonroevilleThe Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) announced today that the Municipality of Monroeville is the latest to receive designation as a Live Well Allegheny community. Their participation brings the number of Live Well Allegheny communities to 24 as they embrace the countywide effort to “live well.”

Live Well Allegheny is about building healthy communities for all residents,” said Dr. Karen Hacker, Director of the Allegheny County Health Department. “I commend Monroeville for their commitment to living well across the life span. We have heard from several Allegheny County communities about the importance of residents being able to live healthier right in their own community. Monroeville is a good example of this as they are providing resources for young and older residents.”

The Live Well Allegheny designation occurred earlier this afternoon at the Monroeville Senior Center as part of the celebration of National Senior Health and Fitness Day. The senior center organized a schedule of events including fitness classes, educational seminars and tours of the new functional fitness stations located in the fitness center.

“Having a healthy community applies to everyone, no matter their age, gender, physical ability or health, which is why it’s so thrilling to see Monroeville celebrate its Live Well Allegheny designation at a Senior Health & Fitness Day,” said Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. “Our region has long been recognized as one of the best places to retire because of the access to health facilities, opportunities for continuing education, a low cost of living and public transportation coverage. We’re proud of the fact that older Americans can live safe, independent and healthy lives here in Allegheny County.”

In its ordinance for Live Well Allegheny, Monroeville Council has agreed to following actions to encourage its residents to live a healthy lifestyle:

  • Share wellness information with employees and the broader community
  • Plan and implement a Live Well Allegheny event in cooperation with the campaign that encourages active living
  • Encourage multi-modal transportation of residents by providing information about public transportation along with biking and walking resources
  • Develop walking maps and measure distances mapped
  • Promote and support farmer’s markets with emphasis on helping all of Monroeville residents have access to fresh and healthy foods
  • Work with local food banks to help ensure access their to healthy foods
  • Provide information regarding leisure activities for children and teens in Monroeville

“I’m proud to represent Monroeville and excited to have the community join the Live Well Allegheny campaign,” said Council Member Dr. Charles Martoni. “Today, Monroeville joins District 8 communities Braddock Hills, Chalfant and Turtle Creek in making our county healthier as Live Well Allegheny communities. I look forward to having many, many more join us in the months to come.”

Monroeville Mayor, Gregory Erosenko said, “I am very excited that Live Well Allegheny is coming to Monroeville and that our residents will be able to participate in this healthy initiative. It is always good to take care of ourselves so that we can live long, healthy lives.”

Live Well Allegheny was launched 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 Health Department Director Dr. Karen Hacker.

Partner Spotlight: Pittsburgh Three Rivers Marathon

Name of Organization:
Pittsburgh Three Rivers Marathon, Inc. (P3R)

Address/Location of organization:
810 River Avenue, Suite 120, Pittsburgh, PA 15212

Mission of organization:
Pittsburgh Three Rivers Marathon, Inc. (P3R) is a non-profit organization which promotes the love of long-distance running and enhances community involvement in fitness activities through high quality events open to a wide variety of ages and ability levels. Our events will consistently serve the needs of our runners and our sponsors; will engage and reward our volunteers; will enhance the economic well-being of the Pittsburgh region; will partner with public and private entities to create the best possible event experience; and partner with appropriate charitable organizations to give back to the community.

Finish this quote: “We are a LWA partner because we believe…
in the mission of LWA and feel our organization and events can help motivate and inspire a healthier community.”

Finish this quote: “We know that…
various socioeconomic factors are a barrier for Allegheny County residents getting physical activity.”

What types of activities/resources are available through your organization?

  • World-class running events (DICK’S Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon, GNC Live Well Liberty Mile and EQT Pittsburgh 10 Miler)
  • Steel City Road Runners, a running club that offers coaching and training plans
  • Youth and fitness activities through the Giant Eagle Kids of STEEL program
  • Other health and fitness related seminars and programming

Are the activities “good for the whole family?” or for “children ages — to —“, seniors? etc.
Our activities are good for the whole family pre-K through 80 plus

What makes your organization unique? Do you offer a unique service or resource for county residents?
Inspired by our community spirit, our events provide an opportunity for people to challenge themselves and celebrate their fitness achievements.

Do you have any words of wisdom to help others Live Well?
Whether your goal is to run 1 mile or 26.2 miles, it all starts with the first step.

Spotlight on YMCA of Greater Pittsburgh

Name of Organization:
YMCA of Greater Pittsburgh

Address/Location of organization:
Various locations throughout Pittsburgh
Association Office:
420 Fort Duquesne Blvd., Suite 625
Pittsburgh, PA 15222

Mission of organization:
To put Christian Principles into practice through programs that build a healthy spirit, mind and body for all.

Finish this quote: “We are a LWA partner because we believe…”
In joining forces for the greater good and collectively creating the healthiest county in the country.

Finish this quote: “We know that the inability to pay for a health club membership is a potential barrier for Allegheny county residents getting physical activity”
Which is why we provide financial assistance and never turn anyone away.

What types of activities/resources are available through your organization?
From our family and adult YMCA memberships that include group exercise classes, gymnasiums, swimming pools and access to personal trainers and registered dietitians to our childcare, parent/child programs, youth sports, traditional and overnight camps, we truly have something for everyone.

Are the activities “good for the whole family?” or for “children ages — to —“, seniors? etc.
Everyone is welcome at the YMCA. We offer everything from infant swim lessons to senior group fitness classes. We have an evidence-based diabetes prevention program for adults and specialty camps for people with disabilities and illnesses.

What makes your organization unique? Do you offer a unique service or resource for county residents?
We offer a variety of social services including: residential housing, congregate meals, food pantries, urban gardens, tax preparation, healthcare enrollment support, job placement, family support, etc. Allegheny County residents receive a free 1-week trial pass. Go to and search Live Well Allegheny.

Do you have any words of wisdom to help others Live Well?
To live well, think of how you can strengthen the pillars of your healthy home. These pillars are: Eat Well, Sleep Well, Get Together, Go Outside and Play Everyday. A balanced lifestyle will honor each of these priorities without feeling like it’s too much work.

Spotlight on Grow Pittsburgh

Name of Organization:

Address/Location of organization:
#2W, 6587 Hamilton Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15206 • (412) 362-4769

Mission of organization:
To teach people how to grow food and promote the benefits that gardens bring to our neighborhoods.

Finish this quote: “We are a Live Well Allegheny partner because we believe…”
… everyone should have the opportunity to grow and eat fresh and delicious produce.

What types of activities/resources are available through your organization?
We help establish and support community and school food gardens around the county and provide programming for people of all ages.

Are the activities “good for the whole family?” or for “children ages — to —“, seniors? etc.
Grow Pittsburgh activities are good for the whole family.

What makes your organization unique? Do you offer a unique service or resource for county residents?
We help to make it easy for residents to learn about where their food comes from and how they can grow their own food in order to live healthier and happier lives.

Do you have any words of wisdom to help others Live Well?
Try planting a seed and growing your own food. It’s easy and will bring lots of health and joy into your lives.

Girls on the Run of Magee-Womens Hospital

Address/Location of organization:
3380 Blvd. of the Allies, Suite 315, Pittsburgh, PA 15213
Meredith Colaizzi, Program Director • 412.641.1596 •
GOTR Magee website

Mission of organization:
Girls on the Run inspires girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running.

Finish this quote: “We are a LWA partner because we believe…”
… Our goals, mission and core values align with LWA in efforts to educate and improve the health and well-being of the young girls in our area.

What types of activities/resources are available through your organization?
12 week wellness program which combines training for a 5K with lessons on making healthy choices.
Two seasons offered (Spring/Fall) and site locations/meeting days and times posted in August/January at OR for details on our GOTR 5K’s open to anyone in May and December (also refer to those sites for dates and details)

Are the activities “good for the whole family?”
Girls on the Run program is for 3rd-8th grade girls.
Girls on the Run 5K program is good for the whole family
Fee associated with activity is $20-$160 depending on family income. Scholarships are available upon application.

What makes your organization unique? Do you offer a unique service or resource for county residents?
Girls on the Run is the only program that exists of its kind as a non-competitive running program which also focuses on empowering girls with greater confidence and enhancing their physical, emotional, social and mental well-being.

Do you have any words of wisdom to help others Live Well?
“I learned that I could push myself and be better at whatever I want to do. The best part of Girls on the Run was what I accomplished and learned about myself”
~ Girls on the Run Participant