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Park districts, health department win award

The Illinois Association of Park Districts has awarded the Waukegan Park District, Gurnee Park District and Lake County Health Department with an Intergovernmental Cooperation Best of the Best award for their work on GO Lake County.

The award recognizes the agencies and units of government that work together to form a partnership that maximizes tax dollars and benefits to residents, according to a news release.

“GO Lake County is a great example of how we can partner with our park districts to improve the health and well-being of those who live, work and play in Lake County,” health department Executive Director Mark Pfister said in the release.

“With the support of our Board of Health and the County Board, we are committed to expand GO to other communities to help increase walking and other physical activity.”

In 2016, Gurnee Park District launched GO Gurnee, a health initiative in support of the former Surgeon General’s nationwide “Step It Up!” program to improve resident health and build community. GO Gurnee continues to provide programs, events and opportunities that encourage individuals to walk at least 30 minutes a day.

In collaboration with Live Well Lake County, the Lake County Health Department conducted community health surveys that revealed health issues and priorities in the county. Results in 2016 indicated that among surveyed adults in Lake County, 57 percent are overweight or obese, 9 percent have been diagnosed with diabetes, 35 percent have been diagnosed with hypertension, and 18 percent have been diagnosed with depression.

Through these surveys, Waukegan was identified as a high-risk community with some of the highest rates of obesity, diabetes and depression in the county.

Because of these findings, the Gurnee Park District joined hands with the Waukegan Park District to provide intergovernmental support and to replicate the GO Gurnee model in Waukegan.

In December 2016, the Live Well Lake County Be Active: Walking action team was formed. Jennifer Gilbert of Gurnee Park District and Jay Lerner of Waukegan Park District were appointed as co-chairmen with facilitator Sean Collins of the Health Department.

GO Gurnee was the blueprint for GO Waukegan. The group worked together to build awareness and increase physical fitness through walking groups. Success was shown through Waukegan’s 250-participant kickoff event, monthly countywide special events and programs, multiple established walking clubs in each community, and more than 1 million total steps tracked.

Together with the Lake County Health Department, both park districts look forward to bringing the GO program to every Lake County community to help residents become more healthy and active.

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