Five Strategic Areas
Healthy smoke-free spaces for children and adults are essential to good health. Secondhand smoke poses harmful health threats to people of all ages. We Choose Health will address two strategies:
- Smoke-free Public Places
The Smoke-free Illinois Act protects Illinois from secondhand smoke in indoor public places and workplaces. Smoke-free Public Places will build upon the success of the Smoke-Free Illinois Act to support further policies that limit smoking in outdoor areas such as parks and campuses. We Choose Health will fund and support local community groups to pursue smoke-free policies in outdoor public places.
- Smoke-free Multi-unit Housing
Studies have shown that as much as 60 percent of airflow in multi-unit housing facilities comes from other units (CDC, Healthy Homes Manual). Pursuing smoke-free multi-unit housing will protect nonsmokers from unintended secondhand smoke exposure in their homes. We Choose Health will fund and support local community groups to pursue smoke-free policies in multi-unit housing facilities.
Every Illinois community deserves to have access to healthy food choices and safe opportunities for physical activity. Getting proper nutrition and exercise are essential for building and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and for preventing obesity and other illnesses. We Choose Health will fund the following types of evidence- and practice-based approaches to increase opportunity and remove barriers to healthy living:
- Breastfeeding/Baby Friendly Hospitals
Breastfeeding is one of the best things mother’s can do for a healthy baby. Breastfeeding has been shown to prevent illness and recently as a protective factor to obesity. Baby Friendly Hospitals is a World Health Organization initiative to make hospitals a supportive place for mothers who want to breastfeed. We Choose Health will fund and support local community groups to achieve the Baby Friendly Hospital designation at local hospitals in their area.
- Coordinated School Health Model (CSHM)
The Coordinated School Health Model brings together school administrators, teachers, other staff, students, family and community members to assess health needs; set priorities; and plan, implement and evaluate school health activities. The CSHM consists of eight components: health education; physical education; health services; nutrition services; counseling, psychological and social services; healthy and safe school environments; health promotion for staff; and family/community involvement. We Choose Health will fund and support local community groups to implement CSHM in their local school districts.
- Nutrition and Physical Activity Self-Assessment for Child Care (NAP SACC)
NAP SACC intervention utilizes a simple assessment tool for child care providers to identify easy ways to improve nutrition and physical activity standards. We Choose Health will work with sister agencies and other partners to implement the NAP SACC intervention at a statewide level.
- Worksite Wellness
Workplaces are an ideal opportunity to support healthy eating and active living considering how much time adults spend at their worksites. Worksite wellness programs give employees opportunities to be physically active, eat health foods and live tobacco free. Employers and their employees can both benefit from such programs. We Choose Health will fund and support local community groups to partner with local employers to implement worksite wellness policies.
Improving and increasing opportunities and access to safe environments for physical activity can reinvigorate communities and create healthier residents. We Choose Health will fund and support local communities to accomplish safe environments through the following three initiatives:
- Complete Streets
Complete Streets is a planning model that ensures new and reconstructed streets are designed to accommodate bicycle and pedestrian traffic in addition to automobiles and public transportation. This means that every transportation project in a given jurisdiction will make the street network better and safer for all commuters. Complete Streets will make it easy to cross the street, walk to shops, and bike to work; allows buses to run on time; and makes it safer for people to walk to and from train stations.
- Safe Routes to School
Safe Routes to school is a program to establish designated pedestrian and bike-friendly routes for children and others to use when traveling to and from community schools. Providing Safe Routes to School will help make active transportation, such as walking and biking, safe and attractive modes for children to use when traveling to and from school. Resulting infrastructure and system improvements can include adding sidewalks or new crosswalks; safety programming and events for drivers; student pedestrian and bicycle safety education; and reduced speed near school zones and in neighborhoods.
- Joint Use Agreements
The sharing of space between schools and communities makes it easier for people to be active and healthy. These partnerships, often called Joint Use agreements, enable communities to keep costs down and residents healthy. Increasing Joint Use agreements will permit community members to access safe environments for physical activity. In many Illinois communities, especially rural, access to safe facilities for physical activities/exercise is limited. Expanding access to these facilities, such as by expanding hours or permitting other community members to use the facility would support active living through access to safe and healthy built environments.
To improve students’ mental, emotional and social health, schools need to incorporate counseling, psychological and social services, which can include individual and group assessments, interventions and referrals. These efforts not only help the individual student, but also the overall health of the school environment. We Choose Health will fund and support local community groups to implement social and emotional wellness programs for students.
To improve health in communities, it is important that clinicians are aware of the health of the whole community to effectively treat the individual patient. This project will integrate the use of electronic medical records and population health data to get a full picture of the health in communities. The Department will work with federally qualified health centers to implement the quality improvement dashboard tool so clinicians and patients can work together to better treat and manage high blood pressure and cholesterol.