The Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust Healthy Living Program of Cherokee County held its annual community meeting last Monday, June 13, and program Coordinator Lora Buechele provided details.

"We meet once a year in June to share with our community and partners," said Buechele. "We are on year two or out of five for this cycle."

On a grant from the TSET, there are Healthy Living Programs currently covering 30 counties in Oklahoma. TSET writes on its website that TSET Healthy Living Program grants are designed to prevent cancer and cardiovascular disease by preventing and reducing tobacco use and obesity on a local level.

Cherokee County HLP literature states it implemented 12 strategies last year "to improve access to healthy foods, increase opportunities for physical activity and reduce youth access to tobacco."

The program works closely with the area community. To meet health needs, The Healthy Living Collaborative conducted the Comprehensive Community Needs Assessment, which amassed feedback from the community.

Notable statistics from this assessment were shared in an infographic distributed at the annual meeting. For instance, a majority of participants– 68.75% – stated that the existing infrastructure to walk and bicycle was not well-maintained and not available in the areas around where they live.

The CCHLP shared the work it finished this year in response to this feedback, including four complete street projects that support access to physical activity and four childcare centers implementing approaches that support access to healthy foods.

Buechele is looking forward to the coming year.

"Next year, I am really hoping that we are able to reach community members through our different strategies, so they know that the healthy choice is the easy choice," said Buechele.

These 12 strategies include:

• Youth access to tobacco prevention.

• Safe and complete streets.

• Healthy food options in restaurants.

• Support for farmers' market expansion.

• Tobacco sponsorship and advertisement restrictions.

• Pedestrian and bicyclist wayfinding.

• Social support groups for physical activity.

• Childcare center nutrition provisions.

• Tobacco point-of-sale health messaging.

• Healthy food options in small retail.

• Childcare center physical activity provisions.

• Healthy food options at recreational venues.

Buechele spoke to the importance of the community to the program's success.

"Our grant is a grant of the community. We really want to make sure they take ownership so they can address their needs," said Buechele. "We can't do it alone."

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