IMG_0425By Tina Dirmann

BCBSLA Foundation Staff Writer

Our Southwest Louisiana neighbors have reason to celebrate after earning an improved health report card, as revealed during a walking press conference at Prien Lake Park in Lake Charles earlier this week (one of several parks in and around Calcaseiu Parish to get new playground and fitness equipment and other aesthetic upgrades). Also highlighted? An array of sparkling new exercise stations along the park’s walking path and improvements to a popular kayak and paddle board slip area. And, we’re excited to note, that all of the infrastructure overhauls were part of the Dare To Be Healthy‬ wellness initiative (made possible through our Challenge for a Healthier Louisiana grant program). The Calcasieu Parish Police Jury and Partnership for a Healthier Louisiana hosted this week’s community walk and park tour.

Of course, most press conferences do not involve walking. Indeed, most require folks to just standing around a podium, waiting for someone else to speak. But, says Janice Ackley, Dare to be Healthy Challenge Grant coordinator and a representative with the SWLA Area Health Education Center, the pre press conference walk was meant to underscore an important point.

“Walking is one of the simplest changes people can make to improve their health status,” Ackley said.

And the new park exercise stations further support that get-out-and-get-healthy message, she noted.

“Several outdoor fitness stations were added,” she said, “including stations for arms, shoulders, back and leg exercises, plus an added stretch of cardio as they walk or jog from station to station… Residents now have a unique venue in the community to get in a fun workout in the outdoors with beautiful views of the lake and nature. By providing new and innovative outdoor fitness equipment, we hope to encourage the community to make healthier choices.”

And as Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals Medical Director, Dr. B.J. Foch, told Lake Charles news station KPLC, “Basically, schools, businesses, churches and other organizations are coming together and realizing that we can’t just look to government to solve all the health issues and health problems that exist. This was first step to call attention to that.”

For KPLC’s full story, click on the image below:

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And for more details on the region’s health rankings, click here!