The Hampshire Council of Governments in partnership with the towns of Amherst, Belchertown, Northampton, and Williamsburg, was awarded $60,000 multi-year Community Transformation Grant. The funding comes from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and will be administered by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH). The grants are designed to take a prevention-based approach to improving health and wellness in cities and towns across Massachusetts.
“This critical funding will synchronize and focus wellness efforts that a wide variety of groups are engaged in here in Hampshire County” said Todd Ford, Executive Director of the Council. “By doing so, we will assist cities and towns in the development of local policies that bridge the gap between the promotion of wellness as a concept and the on the ground reality of providing residents access to resources that encourage exercise and healthy eating.”
A key focus of both awards is an expansion of the Mass in Motion Municipal Wellness and Leadership Program, which works at the local level to support policy and environmental change to reduce obesity, improve nutrition, and promote active living. The program is one component of the groundbreaking Mass in Motion statewide anti-obesity initiative implemented by the Patrick-Murray Administration in January 2009.
“The Mass in Motion program provides support for approaches to chronic disease prevention that have the highest likelihood of success by focusing on policy changes that ‘help make the healthy choice the easy choice’” said Ben Wood, Health Director for the City of Northampton.
The nationwide Community Transformation Grants program was created by HHS through funding provided by the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care law. Overall, HHS has awarded approximately $103 million in prevention grants to 61 states and communities, reaching more than 120 million Americans.