Community Well-being to be measured in Greater Buffalo Area
Press Release 2015
Buffalo, N.Y. July 6, 2015 – The nonprofit Wellness Institute of Greater Buffalo is pleased to announce their new social capital initiative. The Wellness Institute is teaming up with Buffalo State College to measure community well-being. Leading the team is the Institute’s Director of Social Capital initiatives, James Quinn and the Wellness Institute’s Executive Director, Phil Haberstro. Academic support is being provided by Buffalo State’s Dr. Scott Roberts of the Health and Wellness Department and Jon Slaughter our statistics professional who will be heading the project’s analysis. After extensive research, the team decided to measure community well-being by measuring the asset known as social capital. The confidential survey is available at www.surveymonkey.com/r/Connected716 Social capital is considered by many researchers as “the glue that holds society together.” The formal definition of social capital is “the features of social life, networks, norms, and trust that enable participants to act together more effectively to pursue shared objectives (Robert Putnam, Harvard University).”
Increasingly over the past decades, social researchers have studied how social capital effects the community. Studies have documented that social capital plays a vital role in health, happiness, community safety, and economic prosperity. A 2003 Chicago study noted that mortality rates of all types dropped in geographic areas with higher levels of social capital. Researchers at the Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program at Yale University have found evidence that social capital in the form of community pride significantly reduces gun violence and street crime. Researchers have conducted numerous empirical studies that highlight that the presence of social capital creates a better economic environment for businesses and citizens alike. This is a direct result of the greater cultivation of human capital or working skills and the spread of information such as employment opportunities that strong networks of social capital create (Coleman, Columbia University).
Strong networks between social circles, or bridging social capital, allow information about health, employment, and community services to flow more effectively through a community. Strong networks of social capital also contributes to our trust. That is, our general trust in others like our colleagues, and especially our trust in our neighbors. Without trust, collaboration is virtually impossible. Since community well-being plays such a vital role in our health, happiness, economic sustainability, and our ability to collaborate to solve local issues, the Wellness Institute has made measuring social capital a key priority so our community can manage and improve our stock of social capital. Buffalo is indeed in a renaissance, so growth must be done intelligently if we are to sustain our new found community strength. Buffalo is considered by many to be the “City of good neighbors.” In a lot of ways, this study is exploring this very notion. Given the amount of evidence in recent studies, living in an area with good neighbors is highly beneficial. Your well-being may even depend on it!
B-Well: City of Buffalo Wellness Program
Shifting any Community’s culture to one that supports regular physical activity and provides a more walkable environment is an exciting and real civic challenge. Add in the elements of four very distinct weather seasons and you have an authentic test of community creativity and persistence. Impacting citizen regular physical activity at all life stages was one of the tall orders faced by the City of Buffalo New York’s “B-Well” Program and its’ many partners. Founded in 1989 and managed for the City by the non-profit Wellness Institute of Greater Buffalo, “B-Well” made its’ first strategic decision to improve regular physical activity in the City’s older adult population. Successfully launching, in the Spring of 1992, the City’s first ever “Golden Years” Wellness Walk in the Park (Buffalo is blessed with a fabulous Olmsted park system) started the expansion of the walking program. The initial Spring walk was expanded to a full series of Fall park walks (with their beautiful colors!) and into a Winter season of indoor walks in area malls and back into our County Parks the following Spring. Years later, with the growth of the City’s Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, we added the dimension of noontime Summer guided walks for employees and visitors to the Medical Campus. By 2007, “B-Well”s first humble Golden Years walk had turned into a year-round “Be Active” series of walks featuring multiple partners and opportunities for persons of all ages to gain the benefits of regular physical activity through its’ most popular (and least expensive) form : WALKING! But wait – our journey does not end there, as we added the Walk Your Children to School initiative to our menu. A City Bike/Pedestrian Committee was formed, Complete Streets legislation was passed and in 2014 a “metric” was added by counting the steps taken by the participants in the 50+ walks. “B-Well” and the Wellness Institute coordinates with their partners in the “City of Good Neighbors” and the County of Erie, New York. Leading the way to 10 Million Plus steps counted in 2014 was Wellness Institute Affiliate Explore Buffalo, which provides the Community with wonderful “walking” tours of Buffalo’s outstanding architecture and history. For 2015, “B-Well” and the Wellness Institute has set a Community goal of 15 million steps. In addition to the Be Active walks, local runs and walks have been invited to add their steps into the 15 million goal. With all our partners and improving environmental support, (including those branding Buffalo, New York as the best designed city in America), we are confident that our Vision of more physical activity and a more walkable city is in the process of achievement.
WI's Haberstro is Certified Trainer for CDC's Work@Health Program...
In 2014, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) launched the National Work@Health Employer Training Program. The Work@Health Program is designed to train employers , from all sectors how to establish, expand and improve science- and practice-based health promotion strategies that lead to specific, measurable outcomes to reduce employee chronic disease rates in the work place.
The Wellness Institute of Greater Buffalo's Executive Director,Philip L.Habersto was selected by CDC as one of 60 participants for the National training program that featured a Train-The-Trainer module, intended to provide trainers with the skills and most current tools to provide employers with training to promote health in their workplaces to prevent or reduce chronic illness and disability, improve productivity and the competetiveness of participating employers through the CDC's Work@Health program.
Wellness Institute Community Partners announce 15 MILLION +STEPS in 2015 Initiative! "Explore Buffalo" Leads the Way!
To positivly impact our community's health and economy the nonprofit Wellness Institute of Greater Buffalo and its many community partners have set a community wide physical activity goal of achieving 15 Million+ Steps in 2015 among all age groups in WNY ! With a primary focus on community walks The Institue will track and report quaterly the number of steps talen by participants in the walks that the Institute, its afiliates, community partners and friends achieve in 2015.Wellness Institute Executive Director Phil Haberstro noted "The 15 Million+ Steps initiative,while having merit on its own, supports other community initiatves like the Erie County Department of Health"s cardiovascular health improving MILLION HEARTS CAMPAIGN ,the IHA /BILLS Community HEALTH AND WELLNESS CHALLENGE and a wide range of community walks/runs that the Institute either leads , is a partner or supporter of. The strategic path to a healthier community population is built on sustainable inter-sector and inter-disciplinary collaboration."
Leading the collaborative way is "Explore Buffalo", an Affiliate of the nonprofit Wellness Institute of Greater Buffalo. Explore Buffalo provides walking, biking and kayaking opportunities to discover Buffalo's great architecture, history, and neighborhoods. Their mission is accomplished by providing guidance and encouragement to participants to develop their interest and skills in educating others on these valuable assets. Children are also offered the opportunity to learn about the history of Buffalo and their role in the future while offering health enhancing, social capital building, and environmentally friendly activities.
Explore Buffalo Executive Director Brad Hahn says, "Adding up all of the people who have taken an Explore Buffalo tour in 2014 - currently about 4,000 - and multiplying it by an average of 3,000 steps per tour, we are currently over 12 MILLION steps! At one event alone, our "Architectural Pursuit" downtown scavenger hunt on October 11th, one participant with a pedometer counted 11,130 steps - and with 51 participants, that would equal over 567,000 steps in one afternoon alone. That is real evidence of a community becoming healthier not only physically, but also socially, as everyone on our tours gains a greater appreciation of all that Buffalo has to offer."