SEQUIM — The shift is on.
Members of the Sequim-Dungeness Valley Healthy Community Coalition welcomed interested community members of all ages to their health initiative kickoff at the Sequim Civic Center on Saturday.
The project aims to engage and inspire the Sequim-Dungeness community to make a cultural shift toward improved health.
Monica Dixon, the Healthy Community Coalition co-chair, is a registered dietitian and health psychologist.
She said one of the great things about living in a small town is that residents can script their own future.
“I love this town. It’s a wonderful time to tell a new story,” she said.
Ready, Set, Go 5210!
The health initiative Ready, Set, Go 5210! is a nationally recognized approach to health centered on five servings of fruits and vegetables per day, two hours or less of recreational screen time, one hour of physical activity and zero sugar-sweetened beverages — hence the 5, 2, 1 and 0.
The program “is not an end-all,” Dixon said. “It’s a means to begin the conversation.”
She said program supporters hope to see the health initiative promoted throughout the community.
Unlike in Kitsap and Pierce counties where the 5210 programs target specific age groups, the smaller size of the Sequim-Dungeness area allows the initiative to be applied community-wide, Dixon said.
Dr. Chris Frank, Clallam County health officer, noted that the U.S. ranks dead last among the 11 wealthiest nations in health outcomes despite spending more than any other on medical care.
Poor diet, inactive lifestyles and tobacco use are the primary culprits, Frank said.
Just 1 in 4 residents of Clallam County meet the Ready, Set, Go 5210! standard, Frank said, and half of the county’s residents are overweight or obese.
He added that nationally, young people are getting about seven hours of recreational “screen time” (television, computers, etc.) per day and adults are at five hours per day.
“It’s easy to get discouraged,” Frank told the crowd Saturday, but he noted that the life expectancy for the average American is approaching 80 years.
Frank also noted impressive strides Americans have made in the past century — greatly reducing the numbers of deaths by pneumonia, tuberculosis and infectious diarrhea, the biggest killers at one time — and even since the 1960s, by reducing percentages of habitual smoking from 50 percent to less than 20 percent.
“That social change [in tobacco use] drove policy change,” Frank said.
“We need cultural norms to change in our homes, schools and workplaces.”
At the kickoff, attendees received tools and activities on how to incorporate the initiative; had light, healthy snacks from local restaurant Nourish; and enjoyed entertainment.
The Sequim-Dungeness Valley Healthy Community Coalition is a collaborative effort.
Members include the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Olympic Peninsula, city of Sequim, Clallam County Department of Health and Human Services, Dungeness Valley Health & Wellness Clinic, Molina Health Care, Nourish, Olympic Community View Foundation, Olympic Medical Center, Sequim Food Bank, Sequim School District, Shipley Center and Olympic Peninsula YMCA.
Michael Dashiell is an editor with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.