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Sewickley one of 22 communities in county's 'Live Well' initiative

| Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2015, 2:51 p.m.

An Allegheny County initiative to help people make healthier lifestyle choices has made its way to the Sewickley Valley.

Created in January 2014 by Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and led by Dr. Karen Hacker, director of the Allegheny County Health Department, the Live Well Allegheny campaign includes 22 municipalities around the county including Sewickley.

The program has been on the West Coast for about a decade.

“Our first piece was engaging the municipal governments. Changes such as bike paths, health employee wellness screenings, farmers markets, etc. were all proposed to local boroughs and city councils,” Hacker said.

Sewickley Manager Kevin Flannery said although the borough is in the fifth year of addressing wellness among employees, they are working toward the next steps. Sewickley participates in a health care plan in which the borough qualified for a reward allowing them to spend $3,300 on Fitbit fitness tracking devices for each employee.

Of the 30 full-time borough employees, 22 use the Fitbits and other wellness initiatives, Flannery said.

The goal is to help people make better choices about their health, which is why Hacker said she wanted to establish partnerships with the municipalities.

“We want to reach out to the schools next,” Hacker said. “We want to offer additional physical activities and better nutrition.”

About five school districts participate in the Live Well Allegheny campaign.

Another piece of the campaign looks at the restaurants in the area to offer healthier dining options.

“We hope to add to the number of restaurants that already participate in the program. People should be able to find healthy alternatives at every establishment in the area,” Hacker said.

Flannery agrees that healthy eating is a component in the success of the program.

“Next year we will continue Fitbits but will also be concentrating more on food education,” he said. “We are planning four wellness lunches to make everyone aware of foods and offer healthy suggestions. The first lunch will feature just a selection of salads.”

Christina Sheleheda is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

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