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The Voice of the Black Community

Health

Mecklenburg County health initiative earns $500,000 prize
Village HeartBEAT wins Aetna Foundation grant
 
Published Wednesday, February 13, 2019 7:00 am
by Herbert L. White | The Charlotte Post

PHOTO | JASON MICZEK
Dr. Garth Graham, left, president of the Aetna Foundation and Gov. Roy Cooper award Mecklenburg County's Village HeartBEAT the grand prize winner of the Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge Feb. 12 at the Government Center.

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It pays to be part of Village HeartBeat.


The Mecklenburg County community health and wellness program earned a $500,000 grant as one of two grand prizewinners of the Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge. The program’s aim is to combat cardiovascular disease in the community. Gov. Roy Cooper, representatives from the Challenge partner organizations and community members marked the occasion Tuesday at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center.


The Challenge, co-founded in 2016 by the Aetna Foundation, American Public Health Association and the National Association of Counties, encouraged 50 cities and counties across the U.S. to make measurable improvements to public health issues. The initiative has awarded a total of $1.5 million in grants and prizes to participating programs.


Village HeartBeat built relationships with 60 faith-based organizations to reduce cardiovascular disease risk among black Mecklenburg County residents, who are disproportionately impacted by nearly 20 percent compared to their white neighbors. More than 20,000 people accessed health resources to reduce risk factors from smoking, which fell from 17.4 percent to 13.9 percent, and obesity rates from 70 percent to 64.7 percent in two years.


“It was a program that started out very small, but as the program developed, more and more citizens got involved and I can tell you that Mecklenburg County is a much healthier place because of Village HeartBEAT,” says Mecklenburg County Commissioner Chair and NACo board member George Dunlap.


The Challenge prize, funded by the Aetna Foundation, is part of a $100 million commitment by CVS Health and affiliates to raise awareness of community health and wellness. The new Building Healthier Communities initiative, which will be funded over five years by CVS Health and the CVS Health and Aetna Foundations, aims to help people on their path to better health.  


“We recognize to solve our most pressing public health issues, we have to start at the local level – acknowledging the solutions to our problems are as diverse as the communities facing them,” said Dr. Garth Graham, president of the Aetna Foundation. “It is our hope that the outstanding achievements of Village HeartBEAT will serve as a catalyst for collaboration in local communities around the country working to move the needle in combating health disparities.”

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