HEAL SPotlight: the City of greenbelt, maryland
The City of Greenbelt joined the HEAL Cities & Towns Campaign in December 2013 to facilitate health and wellness among the City’s workforce and throughout the community. In an effort to model a culture of health, Greenbelt implemented an Employee Wellness Program that encourages municipal staff to pursue wellness activities during the workday. Staff have free access to the aquatic and fitness center, 50% off fitness classes through the Parks and Recreation Department, free produce through a partnership with a local farm and the Social Services Department, quarterly health screenings, and free walking groups. Through the Blue Rewards Program from CareFirst, the municipal insurance provider, employees receive up to $300 for participating in these activities and achieving certain wellness goals.
The City of Greenbelt has expanded its health and wellness strategies beyond employee-based wellness programs to include extensive opportunities to support older adult health. Through a City partnership with the Prince George's Community College, residents over 60 years old are able to enroll in up to 20 classes at the college for a low rate of $85. The Senior Adults Growing Educationally (SAGE) program allows seniors to gain access to a wide range of classes from history to art to yoga. “It’s really a fantastic program for seniors. The cost is right and it really gets them engaged in the community. It not only helps them physically and intellectually, but also emotionally so it’s a fantastic program that’s been very, very popular,” commented Greg Vera, Assistant Director of Recreation Programs.
Since passing the resolution, the City of Greenbelt has been working with various City departments to implement a Complete and Green Streets Policy to both improve bike and pedestrian transportation as well as constructing pervious pavement along existing roadways. This project illustrates the City’s cross-departmental approach to implementing its HEAL resolution goals. “We all work together to make this thing successful... The admin department, the public works department, the planning department, the social services department… Everyone has something to do to make this program successful. We’ve had buy-in from everyone,” said Mr. Varda.
The collaborative network of implementation and cross collaboration has allowed the City of Greenbelt to facilitate programs and activities through various methods of implementation. The City has used this collaborative approach to develop and expand programs and practices using a combination of grant and city sourced funding. “Where we can get a grant, we try to. It doesn’t necessarily mean the project is dead if we don’t get it but a lot of this stuff we try to do in house or in partnerships with other agencies to keep the cost as low as we can” said Mr. Varda. Through hard work and a creative team-based approach, the City continues expanding its partnerships to provide opportunities for all City staff, residents, and visitors to be active and eat well.