A Woodridge task force charged with combating obesity in the community has drafted three ways to remove barriers to healthy living.
- Promote walking, pedestrian safety
- Work with local restaurants to highlight meals of 700 calories or fewer
- Promote being outdoors, especially during winter
Do you think these ideas will combat obesity in Woodridge? Tell us in the comments.
The task force includes officials from the village, Woodridge Park District, YMCA, the , , , the , the , DuPage Medical Group, Metropolitan Family Services, Kinder Care Learning Center, Good Samaritan Hospital and the American Cancer Society.
FORWARD organized the group. FORWARD stands for Fighting Obesity Reaching Healthy Weight Among Residents of DuPage. The organization, which falls under the DuPage County Health Department, is working with individual DuPage County municipalities to address obesity concerns town-by-town.
Task force members brainstormed several ideas last fall in three categories: built environment, healthy eating and physical activity. Members voted on their favorite ideas to decide the three "big ideas."
Promote walking, pedestrian safety
Woodridge is a drive-to-anywhere community with convenient parking and some portions of Woodridge pose safety concerns for pedestrians, members said.
To make the village more walking-friendly, task force members said changes were needed to Woodridge's infrastructure. More crosswalks are needed on Janes Avenue near and . The crosswalks at 75th Street and Janes Avenue and Route 53 and the Forest Preserve need attention. There are also no sidewalks on Route 53 between 75th Street and 83rd Street, they said.
Creating a pedestrian bridge over Route 53 at Hobson Road has been on the village's capital project wishlist, the project has been pushed back to reduce costs for the village. Many of the sidewalk projects would fall into the state or county's jurisdiction, Village Administrator Kathleen Rush told the group, and would be difficult to see through.
For the restaurant guide, the task force would identify restaurants and educate the rest on how to isolate low-calorie items on their menus. Meals of 700 calories or less could then be highlighted at Savor the Flavor, an annual Chamber event that shows off Woodridge's restaurants, said Amy Melinder, CEO and president of the .
Promote being outdoors, especially in winter
Members touted the availability of bike and walking trails in Woodridge. While all new residents receive a map of the trails, there should be better promotion of them for all current residents, Melinder said.
Task force members were also interested in promoting cross country skiing and other winter sports in the village and working with local partners like REI, the Forest Preserve and the Great Outdoors or to secure grant funding to make equipment available.
To promote winter sports, one idea was to create a "Where to Cross Country Ski in Woodridge" Map which would highlight other opportunities for winter sports, as well.
Started in 2008, FORWARD has grown to almost 400 individual and organization members across the county. Now the organization is working with individual DuPage County municipalities to address concerns town-by-town.
FORWARD teamed up with five DuPage YMCA’s and targeted where those YMCA’s are located: Downers Grove, Elmhurst, Glen Ellyn, Lombard and Naperville.
The communities collected health assessments for residences, workplaces, after school programs and child care facilities. Those assessments covered the ability to purchase healthy food, access to walking and bikeways and exercise opportunities.
Staff studied the communities’ strengths and barriers to promoting health and well-being. The municipalities were then challenged to target three areas to make change.
Downers Grove decided on improvements to public transportation and sidewalks and bike paths, increasing opportunities for non-competitive athletes such as intramurals and providing a farmers stand during the week. The Indian Boundary YMCA currently organizes a farmers market every Saturday in downtown Downers Grove.
Woodridge started meeting late last summer and will continue to meet throughout 2012 to track the group's progress. The task force's next meeting is Wednesday.