November 28, 2018
Be Well Baytown celebrates one year of making impact on community health
BY Clayton R. Boldt, Ph.D.
It is estimated that up to half of all cancers may be prevented by making healthy lifestyle choices. Cancer prevention and control is a cornerstone of MD Anderson’s mission to eliminate cancer.
Aligned with that mission, MD Anderson established Be Well Communities™, a place-based community approach for cancer prevention and control to promote wellness and reduce modifiable cancer risk factors. Launched in 2017, Be Well Communities is an initiative of the cancer prevention and control platform, part of MD Anderson’s Moon Shots Program™. This comprehensive, community-led effort unites schools, workplaces, government agencies, health care providers and policy makers to plan and execute public health solutions to make positive, long-lasting changes in people’s lives.
Baytown, Texas, the third largest city in Harris County, was selected as the inaugural Be Well Community™, and MD Anderson collaborated with the Baytown community to launch Be Well™ Baytown in November 2017. On November 3, 2018, the community celebrated Be Well Baytown Day to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the initiative. Be Well Baytown is an initiative of MD Anderson sponsored by ExxonMobil.
As the backbone organization, MD Anderson leads Be Well Baytown with the support of more than 16 collaborating organizations focused on the five target health areas of diet, physical activity, preventive care, tobacco control and ultraviolet radiation exposure. MD Anderson will continue to support programming through 2024, with the overall aim to mobilize the community to engage in healthy behaviors and reduce cancer risks.
Be Well Baytown is the most comprehensive community-driven initiative of its kind in Texas with a focus on cancer prevention and control. This initiative can serve as a model for other cities across Texas and the nation.
“It has been wonderful for the YMCA to be one of the driving forces behind bringing community organizations together to work towards a common goal that will benefit an entire community,” said Lharissa Jacobs, Community Development Executive Director for the YMCA of Greater Houston.
Highlights of Be Well Baytown’s first year include:
- 445,604 pounds of fresh produce delivered to 32,992 families by Hearts and Hands of Baytown, in partnership with the United Way of Greater Baytown Area and Chambers County
- 12,103 Goose Creek Consolidated Independent School District students participated in CATCH® PE, a school-based health program
- 7,500 Lee College students and staff gained access to sunscreen and sun safety programming
- 4,400 minutes logged by YMCA Walking Club participants
- 557 Hopper Primary students and staff gained access to sun shades and sun safety programming
- 10 sunscreen dispensers installed at city parks by the Parks and Recreation Department
- 4% average weight loss for YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program participants in the first three classes
“The first year of Be Well Baytown has been very encouraging, as we have seen the community work together and devote themselves to improving health and wellness,” said Ruth Rechis, Ph.D., director of Be Well Communities. “We look forward to our continued partnership with the community and for the impact we will have going forward.”