North Fayette Township Uses Existing Resources to Become a Live Well Community
Becoming healthy sounds like a large effort. You need time, you need money, and you need the energy to tackle the task and do more than you’re doing. Even just contemplating this feat often ends with the thought, “Why bother?” Everyone wants to be healthy, but not everyone has the resources to become so. North Fayette Township would beg to differ.
In November 2014, North Fayette became a Live Well community, a designation granted by Live Well Allegheny, a comprehensive, innovative strategy on wellness launched by Allegheny County Executive Richard Fitzgerald, and led by the Board of Health, and the Health Department Director Dr. Karen Hacker. The township didn’t start any additional health and wellness programming to become a member. They began simply by putting greater focus on some of the things they were already doing.
“The township has always focused on offering a wide variety of recreation programs to our residents, whether it’s water walking, wise walking or Silver Sneakers,” said supervisors’ Chairman James Morosetti, “which is why it was an easy decision to become part of the Live Well Allegheny campaign.”
To launch as a Live Well Allegheny community, you don’t need much. In fact you probably already have what you need. North Fayette had some existing programming organized by their recreation department. According to Sue Walls, the Live Well North Fayette coordinator, any community can join. “They’re already doing something. It’s just a matter of showcasing your resources.”
“Definitely, it would be nice to see all of the communities do it,” said Walls when talking about whether other communities should become Live Well communities. “Everybody has something to offer.”
Launching as a Live Well Community
Though November 16, 2014 was a colder day than many other Live Well Allegheny announcements, that did not discourage the attendance for North Fayette Township’s launch at the Brindle Pavilion in Donaldson Community Park. Attendees at the launch included Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, Council Member Tom Baker, Deputy Director of the Allegheny County Health Department Dr. Roderick Harris, and North Fayette residents and elected and appointed officials.
Following the announcement was a township-sponsored, brisk 1.1 mile walk on a recently completed walking/running trail that encompasses the park. The Recreation Department handed out information on its programs available to residents of all ages. The Western Allegheny Community Library provided details on the Live Well display, which includes information, books, and resources on mind, body, and spirit wellness. Also present to provide support and information for this initiative were the North Fayette Police Department, the Pittsburgh Botanical Gardens and Mosaic Church.
The goal of the launch event is to inform local residents about the health and wellness resources that are available in their local community and to establish a platform from which more opportunities can be highlighted.
As Council Member Tom Baker reflected on the Live Well North Fayette launch event, he said, “My wife, Erin, and I believe that it is incredibly important for residents to consider the role of exercise and nutrition in their daily lives and North Fayette is making that easy for this community by making resources that focus on healthy living which exist in their township available to all ages.”
To plan a launch event, you need help from your local organizations. These are the people you already know and have probably already worked on a project or two with. Tell them what you are planning to do and ask how they might be able to help. You might be surprised by the offers you receive.
Walls spoke to the local library, which serves not only North Fayette, but also Findley and Oakdale. According to Walls, when they heard about her plans they decided to join in and designated an entire section of the library to health and wellness. In this section, they provide books and other information about all aspects of living well, including physical, mental, and spiritual health.
Walls also spoke with Lamar Advertising. The township had an existing relationship with Lamar, allowing them to set up an electronic billboard in their township next to the 376 interstate. Walls said because the township and Lamar have a history of working so well together, Lamar offered to let North Fayette use their billboard during gaps in advertising to promote Live Well North Fayette.
As Walls explains, “They’ve allowed us, when space is available, to use it at no cost. And they are very kind. They actually do the graphics for us as well. So they design it, they put it up. It may be up for only a few days. The Live Well launch was up for a few weeks. That was actually pretty nice. But I’ve seen it where they just take it up and down if they have space.”
Leading an Active Live Well Community
As the Marketing and Communications Coordinator for North Fayette Township and the coordinator of Live Well North Fayette, Sue Walls is the first to admit that time is her major challenge in starting and staying active as a Live Well Community.
“I’m the marketing person for the township and I work part-time,” says Walls. “So, unfortunately, because of everything else that needs to be done in the day or week, to do everything that I want to do, I have to plan in the long-term.”
In the meantime, while planning long-term, keeping your Live Well Community alive often just comes down to promotion. In comparison to other promotional efforts, Walls explained, “A lot of times you see something and you never hear it again,” Walls explained about many promotional efforts.
To keep North Fayette Township’s active as a Live Well community at the forefront for residents, she has committed to promoting often. She continues, “Any opportunity I can, I make sure that the name goes out and people are realizing [Live Well North Fayette] is ongoing.”
North Fayette relies heavily on their Facebook page to promote all health and wellness opportunities within their area. Walls explains, “We have a Facebook of over 1300 followers. If [Live Well Allegheny] sends anything such as a National Walk the Stairs day, I throw it up on the page. If somebody has a promotion that is new in the township, like the one pizza place offered $2 off salad on a certain day, I put it up in order to promote them and promote us and remind people [Live Well North Fayette] is still here.”
It’s funny how when you start to call attention to things you’ve already been doing, especially things like health and wellness activities that benefit everyone, how others will start to offer their support and assistance.
“Anyone that I talked to is interested [in being a part of Live Well North Fayette]. They want to join in,” says Sue Walls. “I’ve gone around to a few businesses and I also talk to some that see we’re promoting it and call me. It’s very well received.”
When others start to offer a helping hand, suddenly, things that you didn’t have the time or the resources for become possible.