Continuing efforts to provide a healthy, safe community in north Long Beach are underway, with the Ninth District Council office’s free “healthy community” training for district captains, as well as the public.

“Creating Healthy Communities: A Community Approach to Promoting Health, Safety and Equity,” will be from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. this Saturday, June 23, at the North Long Beach Community Center located at 2311 E. South St.

Thanks to a $1 million grant from Kaiser Permanente to form the Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) initiative for the next three years, the training will help community members better understand and analyze the factors that play into health and safety of their neighborhoods.

“We want people to walk away with a better understanding on how to lead healthy lifestyles in the community and lower risk factors in north Long Beach,” said Ninth District Councilman Steven Neal. “We’re trying to create a dialogue with the community about the successes and challenges, and provide innovative strategies to apply to make Long Beach a prosperous community.”

Along with the Long Beach Health Department, the training will be facilitated by the Prevention Institute, which will discuss how to create environments that prevent illness and injury; provide examples from across the state and the country of efforts to improve healthy eating and active environments, policy and practices; and discuss with participants about current successes and challenges, along with strategies to help improve the community’s health issues.

“The Health Department is pleased to be partnering with Councilmember Neal’s office and the Coalition for a Healthy North Long Beach to offer this training to residents as part of the North Long Beach HEAL Zone Initiative,” said Ronald R. Arias, director of the Department of Health and Human Services. “Through this initiative, we hope to change the health and well being of North Long Beach residents. Healthy eating and active living initiatives like this become more important to our city as we continue to focus on the obesity epidemic, especially among children, and empowering our residents through education is what creates lasting change.”

Neal added that he has seen many families forced to leave their homes due to overwhelming medical bills from health issues and injuries.

“It is a challenge in Long Beach,” he said. “Foreclosures are a big problem, not only for our community, but for communities across the country. The factors leading families to that point is having an exorbitant amount of medical bills. As we create healthier and more active communities by doing preventative measures, we can save taxpayers a lot in the long run.”

The money from the Kaiser grant was awarded to the Long Beach Health Department after it played a key role in establishing the Coalition for a Healthy North Long Beach, which is comprised of other citywide organizations and groups that are looking to support and promote healthy lifestyles.

“This is a great opportunity for north Long Beach,” Neal said. “There are a lot of exciting things going on around here and around health issues. The community plays a key role in the development and work towards the socio-economic challenges we face.”

The training will include lunch childcare and interpretation. To RSVP, contact the Ninth District Council Office by calling 570-6137 or e-mail to district9@longbeach.gov. Everyone is welcome, and the training is free.

“If we become more healthy, the unwanted health issues, energy and financial challenges may get easier,” Neal added.