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HEAL City Spotlight: Warrenton, VA

Updated November 2017

It’s one thing at a time… donuts are still allowed in the office, but we always pair it with a bowl of fruit, and now the bowl of fruit goes faster than it used to… it took a couple of weeks, but it’s gradually changing. It’s about building a culture of health ….

— Margaret Rice, Warrenton Director of Parks and Recreation
Councilman Sean Polster, Chairman of Warrenton’s Health, Parks, and Recreation Committee and Margaret Rice, Director of Parks and Recreation at the Warrenton Aquatic and Recreation Facility for the Warrenton Town Limits celebration.

Three months after joining the HEAL Campaign in December 2015, the Town of Warrenton, VA implemented three HEAL policies including: 1) Warrenton Aquatic and Recreation Facility’s (WAFR) on Wheels Policy to bring health and fitness education to kids and adults, 2) an employee health and wellness policy, and 3) the Commit to be Fit and Healthy Meeting Policies. Each of these policies reflects the Town’s commitment towards creating healthy practices within the workforce and within the community. In recognition of its HEAL work, Warrenton earned HEAL’s Gold Level recognition status at the 2016 Virginia Municipal League annual conference. The following year in 2017, Warrenton achieved Platinum, the HEAL Campaigns’ highest recognition level.

In support of its HEAL resolution, the Town has drafted a Health Assessment to further its goal of implementing cohesive health practices for all community members. The Assessment has helped the Town determine how to strategically implement the HEAL vision of creating a more active and healthier community. Through this Assessment, the Town has implemented innovative practices to promote healthier food options at meetings, trainings, and events. The Town conducted a walkability audit and is working with a consultant to update walking trails to get people outside and moving throughout the winter. In addition, the Town helped move a weekly farmers market to a centrally located area in front of the Town’s Recreation Center. This change has brought over 15 new vendors and increased access and market use.

Warrenton’s HEAL activities have been a collaborative effort of the Town Council, Town Departments, and residents.  Margaret Rice, Director of Parks and Recreation, is grateful for the assistance of the HEAL Campaign resources and the support of the Town Council. She notes, “When we first looked into [HEAL] it seemed like a lot… it might be overwhelming but looking at the sample policies and practices on the HEAL website was really helpful for us to provide advice to make decisions that were right for us….”. She adds: But The most important player has been our Town Council, allowing us to do this and allowing us to commit to this. [The Council] has been amazing in wanting our comprehensive plan to have a health focus. They want us to focus on getting people moving and getting people to eat correctly… without that support we wouldn’t be able to do any of this.”