Coalition serves up a healthy start

Initiative kicks off with healthy food, fun, information

The shift is on.

Members of the Sequim-Dungeness Valley Healthy Community Coalition welcomed interested community members of all ages to their health initiative kickoff at the Sequim Civic Center on April 23, a project aiming to engage and inspire the Sequim-Dungeness community to make a cultural shift toward improved health.

Monica Dixon, the Healthy Community Coalition co-chairman, is a registered dietitian and health psychologist. She said one of the great things about living in a small town is that residents can script their own future.

“I love this town. It’s a wonderful time to tell a new story,” she said.

The health initiative Ready, Set, Go 5210! is a nationally recognized, evidence-based approach to health centered on five servings of fruits and vegetables per day, two hours or less of recreational screen time, one hour of physical activity and zero sugar-sweetened beverages — hence the 5, 2, 1 and 0.

“(The program) is not an end-all,” Dixon noted. “It’s a means to begin the conversation.”

She said program supporters hope to see the health initiative be promoted throughout the community, as it is in Kitsap and Pierce counties.

Unlike in Kitsap and Pierce counties where the 5210 targets specific age groups, the smaller size of the Sequim-Dungeness area allows the initiative to be applied community-wide, Dixon said.

Clallam County Health Officer Chris Frank presented the benefits of 5210 Saturday afternoon. He noted that the U.S. ranks dead last among the 11 wealthiest nations in health outcomes despite spending more than any other.

Poor diet, inactive lifestyles and tobacco use are the primary culprits, Frank said.

Just one in four residents of Clallam County meet the Ready, Set, Go 5210! standard, Frank said, and half of the county’s residents are overweight or obese. Further, he noted, our nation’s youths are getting about seven hours of recreational “screen time” (television, computers, etc.) per day and adults are at five hours per day.

“It’s easy to get discouraged,” Frank told the crowd Saturday, but he noted that the life expectancy for the average American is approaching 80 years.

Frank also noted impressive strides Americans have made in the past century — greatly reducing the numbers of death to pneumonia, tuberculosis and infectious diarrhea, the biggest killers at the time — and even since the 1960s — reducing percentages of habitual smoking from 50 percent to less than 20 percent.

“That social change (in tobacco use) drove policy change,” Frank said.

“We need cultural norms to change in our homes, schools and workplaces,” he said.

At the kickoff, attendees received tools and activities on how to incorporate the initiative, had light, healthy snacks from local restaurant Nourish and enjoyed entertainment.

The Sequim-Dungeness Valley Healthy Community Coalition is a collaborative effort among local organizations to make the area a healthier place to live. Members include the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Olympic Peninsula, City of

Sequim, Clallam County Department of Health and Human Services, Dungeness Valley Health and Wellness Clinic, Molina Health Care, Nourish, Olympic Community View Foundation, Olympic Medical Center, Sequim Food Bank, Sequim School District, the Shipley Center and the Olympic Peninsula YMCA.