By Katelyn Lowery, MPH
One Loma Linda resident and School of Public Health student is working hard to make sure Loma Linda remains a “Blue Zone” and is as healthy as it can be.
Andrejs Galenieks is a Randall Lewis Health Policy Fellow in the MPH health policy and leadership program. He started his fellowship with the City of Loma Linda in July of 2012. He has since helped design the Healthy Loma Linda initiative to make healthy, positive strives within the Loma Linda community.
The initial goal of Healthy Loma Linda was for the city to join the county-wide Healthy Cities Initiative. To start, Galenieks organized a workshop to kick off Healthy Loma Linda in November 2012 with a strong focus on the built environment. At the meeting, participants pinpointed areas they viewed as healthy and also areas of concern throughout Loma Linda. They also solidified breakout groups which came up with three priority areas that would help drive the Healthy Loma Linda workshop series. They were: 1) pedestrian and bike safety, 2) food environment, and 3) a desire for a downtown in Loma Linda. These areas were further discussed at focus groups that commenced earlier this year.
Galenieks organized all of these sessions with the help of Lizzy Foulkes, an MPH in global health student, Brandon Shamim who in the past has been involved with the Healthy Communities Initiative, and Juan Carlos Belliard, PhD, Director of Institute for Community Partnerships.
Taking place in March, the first of these workshop series focused on pedestrian and bike safety, paths and connectivity.
The second workshop took place in April, entitled “Let’s Talk Food.” During this session, Mayor Rhodes “Dusty” Rigsby opened with strong backing of the initiative. Other highlights included informing and gathering community support to host the Loma Linda Farmers’ Market on a weeknight on LLU campus, and creating a working group that would help draft policies in support of more healthy food options for Loma Linda.
The third session scheduled for May 23 will be focused on the vision and importance of having a downtown or a university village. Galenieks also re-applied for the Healthy Communities grant, which has helped the city host these workshops and the initiative.
Galenieks reports enjoying his experience working with Healthy Loma Linda and states “seeing things move forward, even if it’s slow at times, [it] has been rewarding. It is also rewarding seeing the community come together.” He later reported having plenty of support from faculty and staff and fellow students, including Dora Barilla, DrPH, Renate Krause, PhD, Juan Carlos Belliard, PhD, and Lizzy Foulkes. He specifically praised Foulkes for all of her work. Galenieks is graduating with his MPH in June 2013 and will be joining the Loma Linda University Health Institute for Health Policy and Leadership.
To find out more about Healthy Loma Linda, please visit: facebook.com/HealthyLomaLinda.