Council develops ideas for healthy cityBy MARLAN JONES,
The City of Mendenhall recently held a health forum in an effort to move forward with the Mayoral Health Council’s agenda.
The Mayor's Health Council is a partnership with municipalities to establish coalitions governed by the Mayor's Office with the responsibility for creating healthy environments. The meeting was held at the Mendenhall Community Center and drew a moderate crowd to discuss ways to improve the city.
A team of three representatives with the Mississippi Department of Health traveled to Mendenhall to facilitate the meeting. Community Health Director Brittney Mosley, Preventative Health Nurse Pamela Thomas, and Health Educator Fabricio Salazar helped get the discussion started on ideas to make Mendenhall a healthier city.
Mosley said the Department of Health has established different evidence- based programs to promote health and improvements in cities across the state. She said that it was important for the city to establish a community planning objective to identify ways to improve the city’s health.
Mosley highlighted some of the goals of a healthy city. She explained that everyone should have access to recreation spaces, healthy food, medical services, public or active transportation, quality affordable housing, and economic opportunities.
She said the purpose of the Health Council is to bring the community together to empower each other to do what’s needed to make improvements. Over 53 councils are in place around the state. During her presentation, Mosley highlighted some of the features that make Mendenhall special, such as Alice Davis Park and the Mendenhall Sportsplex. Mosley also stressed the importance of enhancing a city through beautification. She showed several places around the city that were scarred by dilapidated homes that needed to be torn down and cleaned up. Also old businesses that needed to be renovated or repurposed were shown.
Mosley suggested the city look into renovation projects and buy vacant lots so they can be cleaned up and possibly resold. She said this would help with the beautification of the city and improve the quality of life.
“The environment we live in has a major effect on our life.” said Mosley. She explained that living in places with a negative atmosphere literally takes years off your life. Beautification and taking pride in the city will positively affect the overall health of citizens.
A question and answer session followed and the citizens were asked to list the strengths and weaknesses of the community. They named the ability to walk the streets and feel safe, and having a good police and water department as strengths. Also because the community is close nit and being able to have a relationship with your neighbors. Some citizens refuted that safety was not a strength for the town as a whole. In terms of weakness everyone agreed that the city needed better infrastructure and improvements on dilapidated property.
The dialogue about strengths and weaknesses was productive in the way that it allowed every to share their point of view. Citizens were able to understand how people from other areas of town live, and some of the struggles that they face. A list of ways to improve was noted, and this was the first of many forums. Mosley said there are grants available, and she plans to share the information with the city’s leadership as they become available. She did advise that while there is some money available, it may be difficult to attain, and ultimately the change in the community is up to the citizens. Mosley said, “It’s on citizens to take action to make things better in their community.” There will be another meeting of the Mayoral Health Council on November 12 at 5:30 p.m.