Commentary: Delaware lieutenant governor challenges us all. Be creative, get healthy

By Bethany Hall-Long

A healthier Delaware in all aspects: That’s my goal.

And the good news is that you still have time to make nominations for the Lt. Governor’s Challenge, which will be accepted through May 1.

The Challenge urges organizations and individuals to showcase their efforts in creating projects that help improve the health and wellness of Delaware citizens.

Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long

Physical, emotional and mental health make up the foundation for quality living. This challenge is meant to motivate organizations, individuals and institutions within the state to enact changes in their policies, systems and environments to impact healthy living.

We have all had to be especially creative during the COVID-19 pandemic, yet even with lock-down and social distancing protocols, we are seeing an inspiring focus on health and wellness. I can’t wait to see how individuals, families and organizations have accepted the challenge and created  sustainable health and wellness plans and activities.

Our challenge has four categories: emotional well-being, healthy living, chronic disease management and prevention, and mother/child health. We will choose the winners based on whomever is making the biggest or most creative  health change to Delaware.

 Making a difference in Delaware

Winners from the 2019 Challenge included Impact Delaware Tobacco Prevention Coalition (IMPACT) for its advocacy work around the Clean Indoor Air Act that helped reduce tobacco access to youth, and Delaware Technical and Community College which implemented community-wide mindfulness summits to help with stress reduction and emotional well-being. We also recognized several individuals for their unique health programs.

Who should participate?

You can nominate yourself,  a group or an organization – anyone who is making a difference! The goal of the Lt. Governor’s Challenge is health, because even one person making a difference moves us toward a healthier Delaware. 

Here’s a quick look at some Lt. Governor’s Challenge nominee examples:

• Inviting inspirational speakers to present to your staff virtually, discussing tactics to manage    stress and share ideas on personal motivation during these challenging times.

• Recycling coffee grounds; replacing unhealthy vending snacks with nuts and fresh fruit.

• Making sure people get up and move every hour – especially now in this virtual environment with so many people working from home.

• Introducing a beginner’s yoga group via ZOOM

• Starting a smoking/vaping cessation group 

By engaging businesses, local organizations and individuals to be change-makers for health in their communities, the Lt. Governor’s Challenge spotlights and applauds those implementing solutions to create environments that support and sustain overall good health in our state.

So, why is it important for our communities to be healthy? Why does it matter?

Healthy communities help improve our quality of life, and healthy individuals are better equipped to manage stressful times.  Health is not just a matter of access to medical care but also a function of a broader environment that affects the individual.

 Healthy communities in turn enrich the vitality of our neighborhoods, an upgrade that brings many benefits:

• Increased physical activity

• Diets free of additives, preservatives and pesticides

• Improved air quality

• Lower risk of injuries

• Enhanced social connection and sense of community in a recovered COVID-19 environment

• Reduced contributions to climate change

The same goes for local businesses. A healthy work environment has a workplace culture that shows regard for its employees in respect for lifestyle practices, attention to the occupational health and safety of its workers, and appreciation for a job well done. Just like any healthy relationship, employees care (and work hard) for a company that shows it cares for them. Even though many businesses work virtually now, there are solid practices in place for employees to take better care of themselves.

So, who do you see as health leaders or those who inspire wellness in your community?

Nominate them (or yourself!) for the Lt. Governor’s Challenge. We’d love to recognize their contributions to a healthier Delaware.

Nominations for the Lt. Governor’s Challenge run through May 1 and we will select the winners on June 1.

Our state may be helping tackle a global health event right now, but we haven’t lost sight of the many local initiatives worthy of recognition. Please nominate your boss, your neighbor, your colleagues; anyone who helps others by making healthy choices the easiest choices for their communities, ultimately helping elevate the well-being, productivity, and prosperity of our state.  We are in this together, and I know there are hundreds of people and organizations doing amazing things to keep themselves and other healthy.

For more on the Lt Governor’s Challenge, visit   https://ltgovernorschallenge.org, or visit @LtGovernorDE on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Don’t hesitate, nominate!

Bethany Hall-Long is Delaware’s lieutenant governor and a University of Delaware nursing professor who specializes in public health.