Get Healthy Utah News and Blog

May 31st 2024

Alysia Ducuara Alysia Ducuara is the Executive Director for Get Healthy Utah. Springtime means conference and event season at Get Healthy Utah! From visiting with our parks and recreation champion...

April 30th 2024

Trilby Cox Trilby Cox is Co-Executive Director for Bike Utah, a Utah-based nonprofit. Bike Utah is partnering with Get Healthy Utah and Move Utah for the Connected Communities Summit this fall. Bi...

April 18th 2024

The Healthy Utah Community designation is valid for three years. To qualify for redesignation, communities must complete the following: Submit a new letter of commitment Continue to hold health...

April 18th 2024

Get Healthy Utah, in conjunction with the Utah League of Cities and Towns, is pleased to announce the newest Healthy Utah Community designees. Six cities and towns qualified this spring: Mapleton, Ore...

March 14th 2024

Get Healthy Utah partnered with the Utah Worksite Wellness Council and Utah Community Builders to host the second annual Utah Business of Health Event! The event took place on February 7th, 2024 at th...

March 7th 2024

Chet Loftis R. Chet Loftis is the Managing Director of PEHP Health & Benefits, a public sector health plan that covers over 170,000 members. He is also the new Board Chair for Get Healthy Utah. Go...

January 17th 2024

Morgan Hadden Morgan is the Program Coordinator for Get Healthy Utah. She graduated from Utah State University with a B.S. and M.P.H in Health Education and Promotion. Chances are, your city or t...

January 2nd 2024

Greg Bell Greg Bell is the outgoing Get Healthy Utah Board Chair. Greg previously served as president of the Utah Hospitals Association and lieutenant governor for Utah. In 2014, a group of us cre...

November 3rd 2023

Cindy Nelson Cindy is an Extension Associate Professor in Beaver County Utah with responsibilities in Family and Consumer Sciences and 4-H. She loves the people she serves, and the variety of progra...

October 17th 2023

Get Healthy Utah held its annual Stakeholder Retreat this October at the Viridian Event Center in West Jordan. This year’s theme was “Connection: Building a Culture of Health.” Topics included the con...

September 26th 2023

Devynne Andrews, JD Devynne Andrews is the Communications Coordinator for Get Healthy Utah. Recently, the Get Healthy Utah staff attended an advance screening of UnCharitable, a documentary about...

September 5th 2023

Get Healthy Utah, in conjunction with the Utah League of Cities and Towns, is pleased to announce the newest Healthy Utah Community designees. Four cities and towns qualified this fall: Coalville, Hol...

August 4th 2023

Dr. Amy Locke Amy Locke is the Chief Wellness Officer for the University of Utah Health, executive director of the University of Utah Health Resiliency Center, Professor of Family and Preventive Med...

July 31st 2023

Elisa Soulier Elisa Soulier is the Vice Chair for the Get Healthy Utah Board. She works as Director of Health and Wellbeing at Castell. She focuses on delivering more high value holistic care for pa...

July 17th 2023

Jennifer Porter and Rachel Bowman Jennifer Porter, RDN, is a Health Program Coordinator, and Rachel Bowman is a Nutrition Coordinator for the Utah WIC program. Visit wic.utah.gov to learn more. Nu...

July 11th 2023

Key Takeaways: “Green streets” have more plants, soil, and water-friendly systems than traditional streets Originally, green streets were designed to capture rainwater locally Green streets al...

Cover for Utah Foundation Report

June 28th 2023

The Utah Foundation recently released a report, Healthy Communities: Advancing Wellness and Safety, focused on policy solutions for Utah communities to increase physical activity. The report is meant...

June 9th 2023

Get Healthy Utah held its annual Advisory Council this May. We want to thank everyone who attended and shared their ideas on how we can improve healthy eating and active living in Utah through system-...

Two adults and two kids doing pottery.

May 16th 2023

Key Takeaways: Utahns are in a mental health crisis and need the healing and social connection that arts and culture can deliver. The arts foster connection, support the healing process, and com...

Healthy Utah Community Logo

April 24th 2023

Get Healthy Utah, in conjunction with the Utah League of Cities and Towns, is pleased to announce the newest designees of the Healthy Utah Community award. Six cities and towns qualified this spring:...

Children Eating Lunch at School

April 19th 2023

Kathleen Britton Kathleen Britton, SNS has served as the Director of Child Nutrition Programs at the Utah State Board of Education, since February 2014. Ms. Britton began her nutrition work as a Die...

Kids at Recess

April 10th 2023

Kimberly Clevenger Kimberly Clevenger is an Assistant Professor in Kinesiology and Health Science at Utah State University, with a background in exercise physiology. Her research interests are in th...

School child with healthy school lunch

March 25th 2023

Greg Bell Greg Bell is the Get Healthy Utah Board Chair. Greg is president of the Utah Hospitals Association, and previously served as lieutenant governor for Utah. Recent research in Great Britai...

February 27th 2023

This February, Get Healthy Utah and the Utah Worksite Wellness Council held the Utah Business of Health event, with the theme “Good Health is Good Business.” Leaders from Utah businesses and insurance...

October 28th 2022

Get Healthy Utah held its annual Stakeholder Retreat this October in Salt Lake City, with the theme “Building Healthier Communities.” A variety of leaders attended to learn more about their common...

August 3rd 2022

Organization: Get Healthy Utah Contact: Alysia Ducuara, Executive Director Location: 2180 S 1300 E, Suite 440, Salt Lake City, UT 84106 Program Details: The mission of Get Healthy Utah is to c...

July 14th 2022

In June 2022, Get Healthy Utah offered mini-grants to cities and towns that want to provide their citizens with better opportunities for healthy living. Cities and towns could apply for up to $5,000 t...

October 13th 2021

Each year, Get Healthy Utah gives Partnership Awards to organizations that have collaborated across sectors to significantly improve community health. This year at the Fall 2021 Get Healthy Utah Stake...

October 13th 2021

The Fall 2021 Get Healthy Utah Stakeholder Retreat was held in-person on October 7th in Salt Lake City. Attendees represented various sectors that have an upstream impact on community health, such as...

August 1st 2021

On June 30, 2021, Get Healthy Utah held a virtual information session on type 2 diabetes, the National Diabetes Prevention Program (National DPP), and the importance of Medicaid coverage. During the i...

June 2nd 2021

The Annual Get Healthy Utah Stakeholder Retreat was held virtually on May 5, 2021. The event focused on the One Utah Roadmap. Lt. Governor Deidre Henderson provided the keynote address. The closing s...

March 10th 2021

What is a wellness policy? A wellness policy creates a safe and healthy environment for students and staff to practice lifelong healthy habits. The school community (which includes parents, students...

November 3rd 2020

Social and economic conditions where we live, work, and play can impact our health status. These include income, affordable housing, safe places to walk, healthy food access, discrimination, and healt...

August 20th 2020

Get Healthy Utah is proud to have partnered with Comagine Health, Intermountain Healthcare, Utah Department of Health, and University of Utah Health to host the free virtual summit for worksites Impro...

August 4th 2020

Jeff Hummel, MD, MPH Medical Director, Health Care Informatics, Comagine Health Meredith Agen, MBA Vice President, Health Care Analytics, Comagine Health The COVID-19 pandemic has seemed both distan...

June 20th 2020

Guest Post by Brett McIff Brett McIff, PhD is the Physical Activity Coordinator for the EPICC Program at the Utah Department of Health. His research has focused on the perception of the built envir...

April 21st 2020

Rural communities often have poorer health outcomes than non-rural communities. This is due, in part, to barriers to accessing healthy food, opportunities for physical activity, and mental health reso...

April 15th 2020

A new, and timely, report from the Utah Foundation examines trends and challenges related to teleworking. Findings include: Teleworking seems to have a positive effect on productivity and employee...

March 24th 2020

Gyms, recreational facilities, schools, and extracurricular activities are cancelled. While we are all doing our part to stay home and maintain proper social distancing, it is important to be physical...

March 18th 2020

To help in preventing the spread of COVID-19, Utah schools are dismissed for a soft closure until March 27th. What does this mean for school meals? On average, 50% of Utah K-12 students participat...

February 20th 2020

Guest Blog Post By, Kate Wheeler, Child Nutrition Specialist, Utah State Board of Education Kate works on farm to fork and local procurement initiatives. Kate has an MPH from Emory University. Prior...

January 14th 2020

The Utah State Board of Education has provided Best Practice for Recess Guidelines. While not mandated, the guidelines support the Utah State Board of Education’s Strategic Plan Safe and Healthy Schoo...

Message from the Board: How to Add More Steps to Your Day

Cindy Nelson

Cindy is an Extension Associate Professor in Beaver County Utah with responsibilities in Family and Consumer Sciences and 4-H. She loves the people she serves, and the variety of programs she is able to develop. Her main programming areas are health and wellness, youth leadership, and anything 4-H.

Congrats Morgan 2Regular physical exercise is one of the best things you can do to improve your health. Walking is a form of exercise that is available to most people, does not require any special equipment other than good supportive shoes, and can be fun to do with friends and family members. The Mayo Clinic reported the following benefits of regular walking: it can reduce the risk of heart disease, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and depression.

One barrier to maintaining a consistent walking schedule can be a lack of time. Instead of adding extra activities into an already busy schedule, try incorporating more steps while at work and at home that will increase your activity level.

Here are some ideas to help you get started:

  • Take the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator
  • Set a timer to remind you to move every hour
  • Take a break at work and walk around your building 
  • Choose a parking spot further away from the entrance of stores, schools, etc.
  • Play active games with your kids
  • March in place while watching TV or while reading emails at work
  • Carry your groceries in one bag at a time
  • Walk while you talk on the phone, or when brushing your teeth
  • Skip the drive-up window
  • Walk your dog, or volunteer to walk someone else’s dog
  • Turn up the music and dance
  • Hide the remote so you must get up and move to change the TV channel
  • Be forgetful, embrace the “old syndrome”, “baby brain”, or “too much on my plate condition” --- forget things, make several trips, quit being so organized, carry things up and down the stairs
  • Forgo modern conveniences---wash your own car, mow your own lawn, vacuum your house

How many steps will you take today? Choose an idea from the list provided or identify a strategy of your own to increase your steps. Move more, walk more, and improve your health.

Get Healthy Utah 2023 Stakeholder Retreat

Get Healthy Utah held its annual Stakeholder Retreat this October at the Viridian Event Center in West Jordan. This year’s theme was “Connection: Building a Culture of Health.” Topics included the connection between physical and mental health, as well as the importance of societal connection for community wellbeing. Leaders from various sectors attended to learn more about their common goal: to improve the health of Utah communities. 

IMG 1228 A welcome from West Jordan's Mayor Dirk Burton and City Councilperson Pamela BloomIMG 1232

Opening words from Get Healthy Utah Chair Greg Bell

Get Healthy Utah Highlights

Alysia Ducuara, Executive Director, presented on Get Healthy Utah’s successes during the 2022–23 fiscal year. Over the past year, Get Healthy Utah developed a new five-year strategic plan, focusing on four pillars: Convene, Educate, Amplify, and Advocate. Get Healthy Utah presented at nine conferences and events, partnered with the Utah Worksite Wellness Council to hold an event for Utah businesses, and designated nine new cities a Healthy Utah Community. Get Healthy Utah also pursued policy efforts, including promoting policy work for public health and piloting Health in All Policies in three Utah cities.

To view the presentation slide deck, click HERE.

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Keynote Panel: Representative Steve Eliason, Dr. Julianne Holt-Lunstad, and Mayor Jeff Silvestrini

Each of the keynote panelists this year work tirelessly to improve mental health for communities. Representative Eliason, who has served in the Utah State Legislature for over a decade, shared insights from his work on mental health legislation. Dr. Holt-Lunstad shared about her work on the Surgeon General’s report about the epidemic of loneliness, and emphasized the importance of social connection to improve community mental health. Mayor Silvestrini talked about the changes Millcreek has made to improve residents’ mental wellbeing. For example, Millcreek created the Millcreek Promise Program and designed new places for gathering in the city.

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Data Lightning Round

Three presenters shared about their work to collect data on the health and wellbeing of Utahns:

Utah Foundation: Community Health Reports

Shawn Teigen, President

The Utah Foundation produces objective, analytical research to support good policy choices in Utah. The Utah Foundation regularly surveys Utahns on their quality of life. In 2022, there was a sharp decrease in scores. Recently, the Utah Foundation started a Healthy Community series consisting of three reports. The first report focused on the importance of open spaces in creating healthy communities. Get Healthy Utah and the Utah Department of Health and Human Services partnered with the Foundation for the second report, “Advancing Safety and Wellness,” which focuses on how Utah policymakers can promote active living in their communities. You can view all of the reports at utahfoundation.org.

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Utah State University Wellbeing Survey

Dr. Courtney Flint, Utah State University

Utah State University (USU) partners with city and town leaders across the state to conduct a free Wellbeing Survey. The survey assesses residents' wellbeing and attitudes about community issues, and helps to promote sound planning and decision-making among community leaders. The project has collected over 25,000 surveys from Utahns across more than 35 cities. The next round of surveys will be administered in 2024. For more information, visit the project’s website.

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Built Environment for Healthy Aging

Dr. Andy Hong, University of Utah

Dr. Hong is Director of the Healthy Aging and Resilient Places (HARP) Lab at the University of Utah. HARP’s mission is to support research and other efforts that create healthy places to live across the lifespan. Policies can impact the entire population’s health. For example, the built environment can either hinder or promote active living for the aging. HARP has gathered examples of successful interventions that have supported health across the entire population, regardless of age. Visit harp.utah.edu to learn more.

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Get Healthy Utah Awards

Get Healthy Utah presented two partnership awards at the 2023 Stakeholder Retreat. First, Dr. Courtney Flint accepted an award for her work with the Wellbeing Project. The Wellbeing Project provides vital information that supports our understanding of community wellness in Utah. Second, Get Healthy Utah recognized the Healthy West Valley Committee for being a shining example of an effective health coalition. First organized in 2018, the Healthy West Valley Committee brings together community partners, residents, and city staff members to advocate for wellness in West Valley City. It is a strong example of what a community health coalition can become.

Health in All Policies Panel

Kiana Dipko, Millcreek City

Alex Kidd, West Valley City 

Kevin Nguyen, West Valley City

Julia Glade, SLCO Health Dept 

Beginning in 2022, Get Healthy Utah partnered with three Utah cities—Manti, Millcreek, and West Valley City—to pilot projects promoting Health in All Policies. Health in All Policies is an integrated, collaborative approach to improve the health of a community by considering the health impacts of policies and actions being made across sectors. Some of Get Healthy Utah’s partners in the pilot projects joined a panel to discuss their experiences implementing Health in All Policies. They emphasized the importance of communicating with city leaders in plain language. It takes time for change to happen, but sitting down one-on-one with people can help them to see the importance of health in policymaking. The ability to customize and adapt approaches to specific cities is also important.

To view the presentation slide decks, other resources, and more, visit linktr.ee/gethealthyutah2023

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Staff Story: Why I Joined Get Healthy Utah

Devynne Andrews, JD

Devynne Andrews is the Communications Coordinator for Get Healthy Utah.

Square UncharitablRecently, the Get Healthy Utah staff attended an advance screening of UnCharitable, a documentary about the double standards we tend to apply to nonprofits. The main subject of the film, Dan Pallotta, argues that the public expects nonprofits to tackle huge issues (ending hunger, helping veterans, and so forth). At the same time, though, we expect nonprofits to operate unlike any other businesses.

If a CEO tried to create the next Amazon, we would expect them to hire the best talent possible, likely at top dollar. From the beginning, a good chunk of the budget would go to marketing. And key priority would be innovation, even when risky. 

Meanwhile, nonprofit workers typically have lower salaries. Donors classify marketing and fundraising as dreaded “overhead” costs. And nonprofits are expected to be innovative without risking donor funding.

The documentary shares stories from multiple innovative nonprofit leaders. A few of them are part of a sad pattern: the leader would spend money building the nonprofit’s capacity (through salaries and marketing). As a result, fundraising amounts would increase dramatically. But these leaders were then ousted because of perceptions of “wasteful spending.”

I never expected to work for a nonprofit. I attended a top tier law school, clerked for a federal judge, and joined a large law firm. That was the plan. Then, within a few months of starting at the firm, my mental and physical health started to deteriorate. Only six months in, and pregnant with my second child, I decided to quit.

After I spent some time recovering, I felt a need to use my talents and skills, but no desire to practice law again. Instead, I wanted to find somewhere that I could–as cheesy as it sounds–make a difference. Specifically, I wanted to work for an organization that tried to improve policies affecting children’s health. As an attorney, I have a deep respect for the broad impact of good laws and policies.

My search led me to Get Healthy Utah. Our mission is to improve healthy eating, active living, and mental wellbeing in Utah at the system level. We convene leaders across sectors and advocate for policies to improve community health. I joined as a part-time employee, making $15 an hour.

Meanwhile, many of my law school peers are currently making $300,000 or more. I could only leave my job because my husband has a good job, and I didn’t have school debt. Still, if you don’t consider my health, this was a pretty irrational career move. For many people, the choice is simple: why would you take an 80 percent pay cut to work for a nonprofit? Wouldn’t it be easier to just donate a good chunk of your salary, sit on a nonprofit board or two, and have financial security?

I think Pallotta is right. We should allow nonprofits to be effective businesses. Executive directors should be able spend money to improve staff, marketing, and innovation. 

Otherwise, nonprofits have to rely on people’s willingness to give up money and prestige to make the world a better place. They have to compete with for-profit businesses that are not similarly restrained. Get Healthy Utah, for example, is working to counteract the efforts of, among others, the car and candy industries. How do you think our marketing or lobbying budgets compare?

Pallotta suggests that, instead of focusing on overhead ratios, we ask nonprofit workers about their big dreams, and how they would make them reality.

Here’s my dream. I dream that my kids grow up in a world where it’s easier to be healthy than unhealthy. At school, they eat a wide variety of fresh, wholesome foods. Their days are full of moving, playing, and connecting with their community. I imagine them growing old with a low risk of developing chronic disease. And I want every kid in Utah to live in that same world. 

That’s why we work with leaders across sectors to develop health-promoting policies. As more people work to build a culture of health, I believe that my dream world is possible.

Fall 2023 Healthy Utah Community Designees Announced

Get Healthy Utah, in conjunction with the Utah League of Cities and Towns, is pleased to announce the newest Healthy Utah Community designees. Four cities and towns qualified this fall: Coalville, Holladay, Hooper, and Monroe. We are also pleased to announce our first redesignees! Spanish Fork, Vernal, and West Valley City each qualified to be redesignated as Healthy Utah Communities.

Coalville

Coalville City has been working hard to create a healthy community! To improve active living, Coalville has focused on schools. The Summit County Health Department provides Safe Routes to School Beat the Street assemblies to K-3 and 4-6 grades at the elementary school, while the city has fostered partnerships with local schools to promote Safe Routes to School.

Coalville City has improved access to healthy food by partnering with the Utah Community Action Services Food Pantry. Along with the Summit County Health Department, the city has provided resources, support, and volunteers. The Summit County Health Department also offers QPR training and gun locks in Coalville through the Health Promotion and Behavioral Health Prevention departments. Moving forward, the Healthy Coalville Coalition plans to implement a strategy to improve active living by improving conditions for pedestrians and bikers. 

Coalville

Holladay

Holladay has been busy implementing strategies to promote health for its residents. Among other strategies, Holladay improved the Big Cottonwood Trail with a bike repair station, water station, and restrooms. The city supports food pantries at its high schools through donations and sponsoring food drives. The city also promoted mental wellbeing by hosting a free QPR class for community members.

Holladay has big plans to continue building a healthy community! The city plans to launch a comprehensive mental health page on the city website, with resources for residents. The city plans to continue improving and promoting the Big Cottonwood Trail. Finally, Holladay also plans to complete a formal strategic planning process, using the Communities that Care framework, to address community health needs. Way to go, Holladay!

Holladay

Hooper

Hooper has been working on big things this year! The City organized a diverse coalition with members from the sheriff’s department, a school nurse, the local health department, elected officials, city staff, and a community member. Everyone is focused on “Keeping Hooper Healthy”! 

The city earned a grant to help build pickle ball courts and a basketball court, offering residents fun ways to get outside and active. Hooper also organizes a monthly “Tomato Jam.” Local musicians, of all ages and abilities, get together to share their musical talents. Members of the community are invited to watch, and light refreshments are served. What a fun way to promote connection through the arts!

Hooper also decided to go above and beyond for their plans moving forward. They plan to implement three new strategies: developing a new trail connection; hosting healthy cooking classes; and providing drug education and resources to the community.

Hooper

Monroe

Monroe has implemented some fun new strategies to promote healthy lifestyles for its residents! The city offers low cost community sports programs, and is working to install pickleball courts locally. To improve access to healthy food, Monroe has started offering a bimonthly farmers market and food truck rally.

Monroe’s main focus has been on improving mental health. The city installed a second medication drop box, and handed out free gun locks to citizens. Monroe also beautified an area for outdoor recreation, which promotes both active living and mental wellbeing. And moving forward, the city plans to promote mental health awareness through local law enforcement and the local high school. 

Monroe

Redesignated Cities and Towns: Spanish Fork, Vernal, and West Valley City

We are so pleased to recognize our first cohort of redesignated cities! Each of these cities has done great work over the past three years to continue building healthy communities. 

Spanish Fork, after years of conversations and advocacy, formed a garden committee. In April 2022, the city opened a new community garden to the public! The city also modeled worksite wellness for its own employees. The city held a two-week worksite wellness challenge that centered around positive food habits, emotional health and physical activity. 

Over the past three years, Vernal’s health coalition has been busy! Their successes have included new pickleball courts, new improvements and developments for trails, and Vernal Rocks, a summer program that helps families get outside exploring. It is great to see an active health coalition making a difference in the community!

The Healthy West Valley Committee has also been actively working on many projects. They completed a community health assessment to understand the health needs of West Valley residents. They supported creation of the West Valley Farmers Market, offered health webinars, supported a new community garden, and helped host a new Survivors of Suicide Loss Day. It’s great to see West Valley City making great strides in implementing health strategies!

Redesignees