The Allegheny County Health Department received a $150,000 two-year grant from the Jefferson Foundation to expand the Live Well initiative into the Monongahela Valley.
Live Well is a program created in January of 2014 to promote physical health, mental wellness and safety for individuals and their communities.
Mon Valley residents have exhibited disproportionately high rates of obesity, smoking addiction, cancer and heart disease, health department data show. Department Director Karen Hacker said she's optimistic about the changes Live Well will bring.
“Some of the communities have already started talking about becoming Live Well communities," she said. "Some of the schools have already started stepping up. I think there’s sort of a sense of excitement which really makes us feel good, and I think our efforts will be well spent.”
Community outreach will target local schools, organizations and employers. The program also includes a Learning Collaborative to increase opportunities for healthy lifestyle choices.
Hacker says there will be about 20 communities and several school districts in the Mon Valley that will receive benefits from the program.
“As a public health department, our interest is in prevention," Hacker said.