MEDIA ADVISORY: Yale’s ‘first lady’ joins growing partnership for health change across New Haven

Wednesday, Sept. 25 marks the first meeting of the Get Healthy Connecticut initiative in New Haven, led by community services administrator Althea Marshall Brooks, Dr. Jeannette Ickovics of Yale School of Public Health, and Yale-New Haven Hospital. The meeting at Beulah Heights First Pentecostal Church calls on the New Haven community to act together to tackle the city’s obesity problem. The initiative will commemorate the Elm City’s 375th anniversary by challenging residents to lose a collective 375,000 pounds in two years.

Members of the press are invited to attend the meeting, from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., to hear the presentations and meet with participants. The church is located at 806 Orchard St., New Haven.

Marta Moret, president of Urban Policy Strategies and “first lady” of Yale, and Ann Greene, a community activist in New Haven’s West River neighborhood, will speak about their boundary-crossing work to improve the health of under-served communities. The event will establish working groups to strengthen nutrition and exercise across the city.

“I am committed to supporting the widest possible partnership for better health in our city,” said Moret. “With residents working together, I believe that New Haven can step forward as a model for the nation.”

Surveys in 2009 and 2012 by Ickovics’ research group, the Community Alliance for Research & Engagement at the Yale School of Public Health, found that residents in New Haven’s lowest-resource neighborhoods reported poorer heath compared to Connecticut and the United States. Excessive weight and obesity — exacerbated by lack of access to healthy foods and inadequate exercise — are among the risk factors attributed to the city’s high rate of chronic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes. According to national reports, obesity and chronic disease account for 75% of the $2.5 trillion dollar health care expenditures in the United States. 

“Obesity is a critical-level threat to our city, with overwhelming evidence of health disparities in specific neighborhoods,” said Community Service Administrator Althea Marshall Brooks. “There are a lot of good nutrition and exercise programs across New Haven. But if we want the city to truly get healthy, we need to make the healthy options the easy options for local residents. We can only do this together.”

Get Healthy CT’s (www.gethealthyct.org) website will provide a centralized web directory of local resources and links to educational materials to help people meet their health goals. The site will support a network of new and existing stakeholders through workgroups on nutrition, physical activity and support systems, such as communications and evaluation.