A woman selecting produce at a local market.

Working Together for Healthy Communities

August 18, 2021 Written by Gina Crist, Community Health Specialist - FCS Program Leader

The health of an individual is influenced by where they live, learn, work and play. Individuals must have access to options to make healthy choices easier, no matter where they are. However, affordable food, opportunities for physical activity, health care, affordable housing and quality education, among other things, are not the cultural norm in many communities nationally.

That's why University of Delaware Cooperative Extension has been working with community partners throughout the state to impact the health of residents in New Castle, Dover and Seaford. Throughout the past year, Extension efforts focused on understanding community health in the wake of the pandemic and working with residents and partners to think about how to support the health of Delawareans in the future. Some efforts include:

  • Working with the Route 9 Health Subcommittee, developing and administering a survey to understand how community members perceive the health of their community. 
  • Bringing together a group of organizations in the Dover area to discuss the health resources available to youth in the community. The focus has been on learning about the various resources and pulling together a directory to better understand and share information with the greater community. The group is also looking at opportunities to work together on projects that address gaps in healthy food access and mental health services for youth.
  • Creating a community garden in partnership with Sussex Montessori School and Healthy Foods for Healthy Kids to increase access to fresh, healthy options for students and families in Seaford. 

To support these communities and communities across the state, we have a new volunteer program – Well Connected Community Master Wellness Volunteer. These volunteers will work with community partners on projects that enhance environments, policies, systems and education to support health and wellness. 

These efforts are just the beginning. To achieve healthy communities throughout the state, it will take the work of all Delawareans. Healthy choices should be the easiest choices, no matter where you live, learn, work or play. If you are interested in learning more, contact Gina Crist at gcrist@udel.edu, or follow Cooperative Extension on Facebook to learn more about the volunteer training in the fall. 

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