City seeking another FIT designation

First Posted: 1/20/2009

After being only one of eight areas in North Carolina designated as a FIT community in 2006, Mount Airy now is seeking the same designation.
The states FIT Community Program recognizes and rewards North Carolina municipalities and counties efforts to support physical activity, healthy eating and tobacco-use reduction in their communities. The program was established by the N.C. Health and Wellness Trust Fund and Blue Cross-Blue Shield of North Carolina.
An application from Mount Airy to receive the designation for 2009 was submitted Friday.
I think it could be utilized from an economic-development perspective, city Parks and Recreation Director Catrina Alexander said Tuesday in discussing the relevance of being named a FIT community.
Companies that might be looking to relocate to the Mount Airy area want assurance that their employees will have access to healthful activities, Alexander said, especially with the increased emphasis on preventative medicine.
In 2006, Mount Airy joined the cities of Greensboro, Durham, Asheville and Wilmington and the towns of Chapel Hill, Cramerton and Oak Island as the first-ever recipients of the FIT designation, which was valid for two years.
More than 40 cities and counties sought that distinction, which rewarded recipients with road signs announcing the honor and the opportunity to apply for up for $60,000 in grant funding to further efforts in the healthy lifestyles area.
Bev Perdue, who is now governor, spearheaded the program while serving as lieutenant governor.
Alexander said this years effort to bring further recognition to Mount Airy might find the going tougher than in the past. Areas can earn FIT community designation on one of four levels platinum, gold, silver and bronze with designees to receive logo usage, media and Web site recognition and possibly highway signage.
The local parks and recreation director views participation in the program not as a statement that a community is where it wants to be concerning health and wellness, but that the resources are in place to move in the right direction.
Its keeping us on track and accountable, Alexander said.
She pointed to the Emily B. Taylor Greenway and the Biggest Losers weight-reduction program at Reeves Community Center as two major elements of the citys wellness effort.
One of the best things about Mount Airys participation in the FIT Community Program, Alexander added, is that it involves a partnership among local schools, the Surry County Health and Nutrition Center, the local hospital and businesses.
Im looking at it as a long-term thing, she said.
Contact Tom Joyce at [email protected], or at 719-1924.

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