The pro-wellness campaign, dubbed “Live Well Marietta,” will kick off in September at the Marietta Farmers Market, according to Cecelia Wagner, assistant vice president of corporate and community health for WellStar.
Mayor Steve Tumlin said people have come forward in the past with ideas, but he wanted something on a large scale that would be ongoing.
“We live in a health-conscious society,” said Tumlin. “We didn’t want a flash, but something that would last.”
Yoga on the Square
Wagner will present 16 months of activities on the Square, including a “lunch and learn quarterly series” with expert talks on nutrition and sleep disorders, as well as a bi-monthly yoga classes on the Square.
Tumlin said he was impressed with WellStar’s strategy to change the habits of Marietta citizens by incorporating the ambiance of the Square, especially the farmers market, “where people are already thinking healthy.”
Kim Menefee, senior vice president of Public and Government Affairs for WellStar, said the proposal expands on existing opportunities to help people residing or working in Marietta to live well.
“From our perspective this is just a beginning,” said Menefee, who said the early stage is about developing a common interest by citizens and local businesses around health.
Tumlin said a strategy to improve the quality of life for people in the community began as discussions with his personal friend, Reynold Jennings, CEO of WellStar.
“(WellStar) did most of the creation. I am more of an idea man, and I love to find someone who is a doer,” said Tumlin about a meeting at the beginning of the year with Menefee.
WellStar is the only medical provider sponsoring the initiative, and is funding the entire project without any tax money.
Designed for Marietta
Wagner was unsure on the amount of money designated to Live Well Marietta because existing resources, including a network of healthcare professionals, will be used that are already part of a community partnership operating budget.
However, this venture is designed specifically for Marietta.
“This is the first time we have offered a year-long initiative with a government,” Wagner said.
Tumlin said there is value in the WellStar name, and that he was overwhelmed with WellStar’s quick momentum in presenting substantive programs to the City Council.
“They are awful big and awful important in this community,” said Tumlin, who added that the original idea was never meant to be exclusive, but that “WellStar is a natural fit as our biggest employer here.”
Tumlin said the aim of a healthier community has a better chance of success with WellStar holding events away from their facilities, where a larger amount of people will be exposed to the messaging.
Tumlin said Live Well Marietta’s proactive plan “to bring education out into the streets is something Marietta is proud to be a part of.”
The cross-promotion will combine the city’s website and events calendar with WellStar’s communication department to provide weekly e-mails containing tips and recipes to participants.
A symbol uniting WellStar’s logo with the City of Marietta’s logo will alert the public about Live Well Marietta activities. Wagner said the message will grow by displaying the image at each event throughout the year.
“Realistically we want people who live and work in Marietta to recognize the brand within six months,” said Wagner
Wagner added the success of the program will be based on participation and continued engagement by local residents.
“We will be able to see success,” Wagner said.
Tumlin was unsure of how to measure if participants reach their goals. But, he said the city is taking this initiative seriously and is dedicated to making the Square known for more than its historic character, but as a place focused on the future health of the community.
Free health screenings
The first event would include free health screenings for risk factors of heart disease and diabetes. Medical professionals will test the blood of people registering for cholesterol and glucose levels, as well as measure body fat and blood pressure levels.
Menefee said the proposed outline of events is a baseline.
Beginning early next year, “Phase 2” involves working with local restaurants to offer healthier menu items indicated by the Live Well Marietta symbol.
“I am excited about every program,” said Wagner, who added that she is most looking forward to publishing a guide to safe walking routes in the city that will help participants get fit.
According to Monday’s presentation, the long-term program would partner with the Atlanta Food Bank to create community gardens in low-income areas starting in May.
Tumlin said the partnership would encourage city employees to participate.
Tumlin added he might join a yoga class, “As long as I don’t have to touch my toes.”