Buncombe County chosen as finalist in national Roadmaps to Health Prize

Press release

From Buncombe County Department of Health and Human Services:

Asheville, North Carolina (September 26, 2013)— Buncombe County, North Carolina was chosen today as a finalist for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s (RWJF) second annual RWJF Roadmaps to Health Prize. As a finalist, Buncombe County is one step closer to the RWJF Roadmaps to Health Prize which honors communities whose efforts illustrate an enduring commitment toward creating a culture of health for all residents. Buncombe County was selected along with eleven other communities from across the nation for their health improvement efforts and will now be considered for the RWJF Roadmaps to Health Prize, which will be announced June 2014.

“We are pleased to have advanced as a RWJF Roadmaps to Health Prize finalist community,” said Gibbie Harris, Health Director, Buncombe County Health and Human Services. “This work celebrates numerous cross-sectored, public/private partnerships and innovative community efforts to improve the health of our residents.”

“Through a systems approach, we have broken down the silos that traditionally exist in social change initiatives,” said Paul Vest, CEO and President of YMCA of Western North Carolina.

To earn Prize finalist status, Buncombe County had to illustrate how its efforts to foster healthier outcomes for its citizens reflect the six RWJF Roadmaps to Health Prize criteria:

• Harnessing the collective power of leaders, partners, and community members.
• Implementing a strategic approach to improving health that focuses on the multiple factors that influence health.
• Addressing problems that disproportionately affect vulnerable populations.
• Developing sustainable, long-term solutions to shared community priorities.
• Securing and making the most of available resources.
• Measuring and sharing results.

“Selected from more than 250 applicants, the twelve RWJF Roadmaps to Health Prize finalist communities distinguished themselves with creative strategies to help people lead healthier lives,” said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, RWJF president and CEO. “These communities are shining examples of a growing movement to create a culture of health across our nation.”

The RWJF Roadmaps to Health Prize is an annual no-strings-attached $25,000 cash prize that will be awarded to up to six of the finalist communities in June 2014. The Prize was launched to further the work of the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps program, a collaboration between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. The program provides data, tools and potential solutions to help policy-makers and the public improve the many factors that influence health in their community. The Rankings show communities where there are areas to improve and the Roadmaps show how communities can take action to expand opportunities for healthier choices. The RWJF Roadmaps to Health Prize honors communities that are creating a culture of health. Find out more at www.countyhealthrankings.org.

About the YMCA of Western North Carolina (Y)
The Y is one of the area’s leading nonprofits strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. The Y currently serves Buncombe, Henderson and McDowell Counties with five Y Centers, 21 elementary age afterschool sites and three 21st Century middle school age afterschool sites; engaging over 61,000 families, neighbors and children. Regardless of age, income or background our goal is to nurture the potential of children and teens, improve the area’s health and well-being, and provide opportunities to give back and support the community. Deeply anchored in Western North Carolina, the Y has a 124 year history of developing lasting personal and social change.


About Buncombe County Health and Human Services
Buncombe County Health and Human Services is the consolidated organization that oversees the Department of Health, Social Services, and Economic Services within Buncombe County government. The mission of the Department of Health is “to protect and promote the publics’ health and to assure through community partnerships that all people in Buncombe County have the opportunity to make healthy choices in a healthy environment.”


About Buncombe County
Located in the Metropolitan Statistical Area of beautiful Asheville, North Carolina, Buncombe County is home to a population of over 244,000. The region has a diverse economy driven primarily by Healthcare, Tourism, and Advanced Manufacturing. Surrounded by breathtaking mountains that offer a wide array of outdoor activities, the community has recently been noted among “Five of the Healthiest & Greenest Cities in America” (Greener Ideal); “Best Active Destinations” (10Best); one of the “Best Places to Retire” (TopRetirements); and one of the “Best Places for Business and Careers” (Forbes). As far back as 1795, records show that the Asheville area was regarded as a place of healing. The climate was regarded as optimal by physicians who wanted to determine the best place for restorative health. From the late 1880s to the 1930s, Asheville rose in prominence as a curative locale for tuberculosis, and the town became a destination for wellness. Today, the Asheville area is an integrative-medicine mecca, home to a wide variety of holistic practitioners.


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