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Use Your Voice!

Arkansas Voices For Healthy Communities

Here's What Folks Are Saying...


Why is a healthy community important to you?

A Holistic Approach

“A healthy community is one that is healthy not only physically but mentally, emotionally and spiritually. It is a community that places a high importance on the root causes of disease, which according to Webster, is a condition that prevents the body or mind from working normally. To have a healthy community that works normally, we must start with producing healthy individuals and healthy families and children. The purpose of leadership, or government of any kind is to provide three vital things, (1) protection, (2) provision and (3) direction. For a City, protection is the public health, safety and welfare of the community. That is police and fire, emergency management, pure water etc. Provision consists of services provided, such as sanitation, utilities, public works, and transportation. Direction is planning and development, education, information, schools, churches and community organizations. If wellness is approached in a holistic manner we will have a healthy community where crime is not prevalent, the economy is good, and families are united.”

– Mayor Ruth Carney, Hot Springs, Arkansas

Economic Development

“In the area of Economic Development, we can’t sell our City to people while also being the last ranked community in the last ranked state in the nation in health education and quality of life, but we have moved up the list quite a lot in the last few years, and we intend to keep on climbing. Poor health is a social-, economic-, and education-related issue that effects everyone in the community. According to County Health rankings, the impact of improved health measures on communities has been demonstrated to have a positive outcome for its citizens by decreasing crime, child abuse, middle class flight, and low income housing. Health education and improvement have also been proven to increase life span, quality of life, growth of population and growth of industry.”

– Mayor Marie Trisollini, Camden, Arkansas


What economic return have you seen? What are you doing to keep growing?

Continuing to Thrive

North Little Rock has been working to establish a health initiative worthy of ArCOP’s “Thriving” status for 6 years now. The foundation was laid by the Mayor at the time, Pat Hays, and City Council member Beth White, with crucial support and encouragement by our friends in ArCOP. We were really catapulted into this work when we received a $1.5M CDC grant through the Arkansas Department of Health for “Communities Putting Prevention to Work.” The grant allowed us to heavily promote our new Fit 2 Live health initiative and hire staff to connect with dozens of partners across the state. When the grant ran out in 2012, we had to get smart about how to spend our resources to make the biggest impact, and we are continuing to reevaluate that every year. We made keeping staff on the project a priority, and have used grant funding, such as Safe Routes to School and Jump Start, to build out our programs. But the key factor in achieving Thriving status has definitely been our community champions. People were encouraged when they saw City staff and elected officials caring about these issues. Community gardeners, dietitians, and cooking instructors have given hundreds of hours improving the health of the community. Often, it only took a nudge from Fit 2 Live and a new program took off. For example, in July 2013, Fit 2 Live organized a one-time, free Zumba class at Laman Library as part of its monthly “Fit 2 Live @ Laman” series. The class was so well-attended that the library decided to host a weekly free Zumba class. It’s been running ever since.

To maintain our status this year, we will focus on four main initiatives: 1) Community gardens, with the addition of three new gardens for a total of 22 and our partnership with local non-profit The People Tree to support their goal of launching a mobile market in 2016, 2) Nutrition education, by supporting nutrition education with staff support and money for supplies, for example for Cooking Matters courses at the NLR Boys and Girls Club, 3) Jump Start, by implementing healthy community design in our Jump Start areas of Levy and Park Hill to increase walkability, and 4) Employee wellness, by further expanding our strategies to improve NLR City employee health outcomes and decrease health care costs through education, encouragement and results-based incentives.”

– Mayor Joe Smith, North Little Rock, Arkansas


From February 2013 – April 2013, the City of Lake Village worked to form a 25-partner community wellness initiative called HEALING Hearts (HH). This effort comprehensively addresses both nutrition and physical activity opportunities and barriers. This collaborative created a vision for a heart healthier Lake Village and mapped its community assets/resources. Lake Village identified strategies and policies and began searching for programmatic funding opportunities. On April 29, 2013, the HH coalition launched this citywide initiative with the reading of a city proclamation and a letter from the Governor. The HH partners also unveiled the HH logo and kicked off a free, citywide, 10-week “GET FIRED UP” fitness program with a community walk led by myself and the Chicot County judge.

Since the kick-off event, the City of Lake Village has expanded the current community garden from 10 to 15 raised beds. The community garden is a “book end” to the half-mile linear park, which encompasses the Lake Village Senior Center, the Henry Augustus Johnson Park (with a walking track), the Lake Village Head Start facility, and the other “book end”, the Chicot Memorial Medical Center/UAMS East Community Fitness Center. In addition, the City of Lake Village has made physical and operational improvements to the local Farmers Market and often hosts healthy eating, active living activities, like monthly blood pressure checks and food demonstrations, at the market. Several enhancements have also been made to local parks, including mileage signage, expanded trails, and permanent fitness stations.

Lastly, the City of Lake Village has created additional infrastructure and built environment improvements, as well as policy change, for employers and employees in the Lake Village community, especially the Downtown area. In 2013, the City of Lake Village (~57 employees) and the Chicot County Judge (~47 employees) completed the CDC Health Worksite ScoreCard and began developing worksite wellness programs and policies, some of which utilized area parks. In 2014, two more businesses, Chicot Memorial Medical Center (CMMC) and Hayes Mechanical, Inc. (HMI), were recruited for worksite wellness efforts and completed the CDC ScoreCard. CMMC has more than 100 employees and HMI has 44 employees. Some policies implemented thus far by the various businesses include: stuffing paycheck envelopes with health information, mandatory attendance to wellness education sessions, anti-smoking policies, and leadership commitment to celebrate National Employee Wellness Week (first full week of April).”

– Mayor JoAnne Bush, Lake Village, Arkansas


What is the value of being recognized? What components of a healthy city do you have?

People who Care

“We have many non-profit organizations and individuals that give tirelessly of their time and money to foster a healthy environment. We have community gardens, jogging and fitness groups (Spa City Pacers), Farmers Market, Comprehensive Community Services Case management for “Bridges out of Poverty” training, physical and mental health providers, YMCA programs, Garland County CARES (youth addiction and suicide prevention), Mental Health Court Coalition, Drug and Alcohol prevention and rehab services, Project Hope which includes the food bank, homeless shelter, human trafficking task force, and many community services, work site wellness which includes health fairs, prevention and addiction services, training and information. Our outdoors recreation opportunities are numerous including parks, trails for walking and biking, water sports, a skate park, hunting and fishing.”

– Mayor Ruth Carney, Hot Springs, Arkansas


“The City of Camden currently has many elements of a healthy city: Carnes Park includes a community center, baseball diamonds, a playground, skate board area, a walking track, a public swimming pool that provides swim lessons, swim team and water aerobics classes, and houses the Plant-a- Seed Foundation. The Foundation provides child care, tutoring, and life skills classes for community children. Ivra Clark Park has a playground, walking track and basketball court. Timothy Church has a park with a walking track that is open to public use. The Riverwalk Park is on the Ouachita River and has a boat ramp, boat dock, amphitheater. Sandy Beach Park is on the Ouachita River and has a playground, picnic areas. The Boys’ and Girls’ Club has Pee Wee Football, Baseball and Soccer and a walking track. AHOC (A Healthy Ouachita County) provides information within the community on healthy eating, exercise, proper health care. HOPE (Healthy Outcomes and Positive Effects Health Commission) is designed to promote healthy choices within the community by providing health and wellness information to the public and encouraging all citizens to take advantage of all healthful public facilities such as parks, walking trails, swimming pools, etc. The City’s current wellness program includes 3 visits per week to fitness facilities within the city. The city is also the benefactor of a Habitat for Humanity site.”

– Mayor Marie Trisollini, Camden, Arkansas


What no-cost solutions has your community implemented?

Anti-tobacco & e-cigarette Policy

“The City of Yellville and the Yellville Park Commission decided to strengthen the no smoking policy it had previously adopted after hearing testimony from the Tobacco Free Marion County group and other ArCOP members in 2013. By the end of 2014, Yellville’s City Council successfully passed a tobacco- and electronic cigarette-free ordinance for the City’s three public parks.”

– Mayor Shawn Lane, Yellville, Arkansas

Awareness & Community Involvement

We hosted a screening of “The Weight of Nation” documentary at the library and invited public health panelists for a Q&A with the public afterwards.

We invited dietitians and trainers to hold one-time free classes at Laman Library for a monthly event called “Fit 2 Live @ Laman.” Topics included managing/preventing chronic disease through nutrition (cholesterol, diabetes), healthy holidays, cooking on a budget, Zumba, yoga, and Crossfit.

We applied for several Hometown Health Improvement Injury Prevention sponsorships to purchase helmets and bike fix-it stations, which we used to educate the public on safe bicycle riding and repair.

We applied for a sponsorship from the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance to hold a Cooking Matters course at the Boys and Girls Club.

The #1 most effective thing you can do that doesn’t cost any money: Publicly announce your commitment to health as an elected official. Make policy change to back it up, for example our Employee Wellness and Healthy Food Options policies.”

– Mayor Joe Smith, North Little Rock, Arkansas


“I have a Sunday morning radio show, and every week, I encourage our citizens to go out with their families and picnic and play ball and blow bubbles and just enjoy being outside together.”

– Mayor Marie Trisollini, Camden, Arkansas

Lead By Example

To grow a healthy community someone must lead by example, which is what I have attempted to do as the Mayor of Lake Village since 2010. That’s when we, as a city, signed on as a “Let’s Move City.” I initially felt I had failed the city by not truly investing in health and wellness, but in 2013 the city launched our community-wide Healing Hearts initiative. I began by walking the walk – literally! I began a walking program and started getting up at 4 a.m. to walk 5 miles. To date, I have lost 45 pounds. In February 2014, I completed the Mississippi River Half-Marathon, which starts in Lake Village, AR and ends in Greenville, MS. In Lake Village the Mayor’s Mile Walk has become well-known by community members and is a hit with school-aged children. The Mayor’s Mile Walk is conducted in various parts of the city on various days and has drawn up to 155 people. The Mayor’s Mile Walk has been combined with national observances such as National Kids to Park Day and Heart Health Month. Most recently, the city led efforts to complete the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service’s, Walk Across Arkansas program. A total of 21 Lake Village citizens accumulated 31,612 minutes of physical activity during the free, eight week program. In fact, our volume of physical activity during the program placed us 12th among the 42 teams. We are now growing a healthy community together with not only elected officials and city employees, but many citizens are participating in the free activities available in Lake Village and efforts have even started spreading into the county. So, what better no-cost effort can we do than WALKING?”

– Mayor JoAnne Bush, Lake Village, Arkansas

Walkability Study

In the process of updating its Comprehensive Development Plan (last done in 1973), the City of Yellville invited ArCOP’s Built Environment Team to perform a walkability study. The study was a no-cost effort on the City’s behalf and a way for the City to connect with its citizens to find out what their needs really are. The results from the walkability study were included in some of the long-term plans for future consideration.

Although free of charge monetarily, I will admit the results were not as easy to hear as one might think they would be. It was hard to see and hear some things that were totally different from the community’s perspective than what the City had been working towards. But the results took some of the guess work out of what the planners thought the city might need and helped them better understand what individuals in the community see, use every day, and really need or want. The walkability study took planning from the big picture down to a neighborhood or street level with a very fast and easy approach that solicited community support.”

– Mayor Shawn Lane, Yellville, Arkansas

Worksite Wellness & Walkability

“We’ve made small changes that don’t really cost anything. Such as, allowing some flexibility for our employees with lunch, breaks, etc. in order to allow time to get out and walk during the work day. We’ve also done a walkability study that helped identify areas of opportunity. As a result, I’ve dedicated the additional state turn back resulting from the 2012 1/2 cent sales tax to be spent on trails and sidewalks in our city.”

– Mayor Doug Sprouse, Springdale, Arkansas


What low-cost solutions has your community implemented?

Cooking Matters

After the success of the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance-sponsored Cooking Matters program at the Boys and Girls Club, we made the decision to continue sponsoring classes there at the City’s cost. The courses are taught by a volunteer, so all the money goes towards food for the hands-on cooking class. Since the cost is so low ($500 per 6-week course for 10-12 children) and the Boys and Girls Club provides a built-in, eager audience and great learning environment, we felt that this was a good use of our limited community wellness funds. Overall, we budget $5,000 per year to support community wellness programs.”

– Mayor Joe Smith, North Little Rock, Arkansas

Community Gardens

“Since 2011, the City Council has allocated $40,000 per year to help start and expand community gardens across North Little Rock. Our model is unique in that it funds community-based gardens run by local volunteers or nonprofit organizations. The City does not manage or maintain the gardens. The benefit of this model is that each garden is just what the neighborhood wants and needs. Some have only communal beds, some rent out their beds and some are a hybrid. We have school-based gardens, neighborhood gardens, and gardens serving homeless and other vulnerable populations. A second benefit is that this model does not require a ton of City staff to maintain. For three years now, we have hosted two Arkansas GardenCorps members at $5,500 each, and they have provided exactly the manpower we’ve needed to lend an extra hand when the garden managers need it, without taking over the project. In addition, we call upon our Parks and Recreation and Street crews when heavy lifting is needed, so it’s a great partnership between several departments and allows us to do more with less. Since 2011, the number of community gardens in North Little Rock has expanded from 1 to 20! Even if a City could budget just a fraction of what we have, using our approach to funding gardens could encourage local volunteerism and enhance your neighborhoods. ”

– Mayor Joe Smith, North Little Rock, Arkansas

Farmers’ Markets

The local farmers market has a few successful years under its belt and it continues to grow each season. Yellville looks forward to some more investment into this program now that it has gotten some roots and a very confident support group behind it. This group has worked very hard with very little to get the farmers’ market up and running and seems to have traction as the market gets bigger and better each year.”

– Mayor Shawn Lane, Yellville, Arkansas


Where has your community chosen to invest?

Building a Healthy, Livable Environment

“The City of Lake Village has significantly invested in the built environment. Specifically, we have expanded our multi-use trails, our farmer’s market, our community garden, our free community fitness center, and our parks. In partnership with entities around town, we have also made programmatic investments in worksite wellness and hosted free, community-wide fitness activities, like a Kids Half-Marathon Program. Most of our events include free health screenings and sometimes include exercise and/or nutrition demonstrations.”

– Mayor JoAnne Bush, Lake Village, Arkansas

Employee Wellness

We have significantly invested in our employee wellness program. In 2014, we took a first step towards a results-based incentive program that has worked so well for Nabholz Construction. We started small, offering $10 gift cards for meeting each of three measures – blood pressure, cholesterol and blood glucose. The screenings were held at our November 2014 employee wellness fair and were a big hit. We screened 129 people and gave out $3,310 in gift cards, which of course made our employees very happy. Paying for the incentives and the screening supplies was expensive, totaling $5,500, or $42 per person, and that was using volunteers from UAMS College of Pharmacy to do the screenings. But I felt it was worth the money to inspire folks to get screened and know their numbers.

This year, we are expanding the screenings to several City buildings so we can better reach employees. Our goal is to screen at least 400 of our 850 employees this year.”

– Mayor Joe Smith, North Little Rock, Arkansas

Parks & Trails

“The City of Yellville has been focusing on improving its parks system. Several grants have been awarded (both matching and non-matching) to improve these facilities. The funds have gone to a walking track, a bike and walking trail, trail amenities, and maintenance.

Yellville has supported the idea of a walking trail long before I became Mayor 8 years ago. Since then, we have been focusing on maintenance of what we have as well as adding amenities the community wants. The trail was long enough that the elderly who like to use the trail can’t make it all the way around without stopping for breaks, so benches and rest stops were installed. Many people also voiced that that they wanted to use the facilities after dark and before sunup, so the trail needed to be well lit. We also continue to look towards the future and currently have an engineered plan to connect the school to a park that is about 2 miles away with a bike path as a separate route from the current sidewalk route.”

– Mayor Shawn Lane, Yellville, Arkansas

The Camden Connections program is a trail program that will eventually weave around throughout the city and connect us to Chidester and even to ElDorado. We have invested $200,000 in planning and are continuing to invest to complete the first section of the trail.”

– Mayor Marie Trisollini, Camden, Arkansas

Healthy Foods in Schools

The school system has worked very hard in establishing wonderful programs that have cost them several dollars. They have also reached out for grant support and have been very successful in doing so. The Yellville-Summit School has a beautiful raised bed garden and recently finished construction on a brand new green house. The school uses these through programs for students to learn how to raise vegetables and teaches them how to manage using food from the gardens in the lunchroom.”

– Mayor Shawn Lane, Yellville, Arkansas

School Health

The Yellville-Summit School was also successful in the implementation of an on-campus health clinic. With help from grant funds and a nearby hospital, the school was able to remodel a portion of an unused locker room and office facilities previously used by coaches into a wonderful on-campus clinic for students, faculty, staff, and the public.”

– Mayor Shawn Lane, Yellville, Arkansas


What positive feedback do you hear? Any push-back?

Responding to “Fluff” Expenses

“Once people see the positive programs going on, there is very little push-back. However, there are a few citizens who see the program as fluff. I emphasize to them the wide breadth of programs we’ve been able to run out of Fit 2 Live with very little staff or resources. Our community garden program connects volunteers, AmeriCorps service members and City staff to build a lot of gardens on small budgets. Our partnerships with coalitions like ArCOP and other organizations have opened doors to grants like Safe Routes to School and Jump Start. And finally, our employee wellness program is an investment in the future financial wellness of the City. We are spending a lot of money on health insurance premiums that we could be investing in new infrastructure projects like pedestrian and bike friendly streets and trails. Health impacts everything. It’s one of the most important investments we can make in our cities.”

– Mayor Joe Smith, North Little Rock, Arkansas

Responding to Policy Push-back

“The previous No Smoking policy for Yellville’s sports complex was more or less a ‘recommendation’ with no consequences to someone who chose not to comply. During the process of passing stronger tobacco- and electronic cigarette-free policies in 2014, a small public group was very vocal against it. The majority of negative comments came from the owner of a local smoke shop who suggested that if the City was not going to allow smoking in the park, then it should eliminate all the local sales tax on tobacco in the city. Another small contingent of individuals opposed the ordinance against e-cigarettes. However, the council stood strong along with the Park Commission and passed the ordinance as proposed.”

– Mayor Shawn Lane, Yellville, Arkansas

Responding to Cost Push-back

Most of our criticism is from the City Council (they are all for anything free) and physically inactive people, so we have been educating the public on the need for outdoor activities and functions, and enthusiasm has spread pretty quickly.”

– Mayor Marie Trisollini, Camden, Arkansas


If a community could make just one change...


“In times when there are many pressures from all directions competing for available recourses, municipalities face difficult challenges in creating those ‘quality of life’ amenities for their residents and their employees. We believe partnerships are the key. Whether working with our school district to create walking trails utilizing JUAs, joining our civic clubs to create additional quality play areas in our parks, seeking out various foundations and business partners to enhance and expand our trail system, partnerships are essential.

– Mayor Doug Sprouse, Springdale, Arkansas

Clean Public Air

I would suggest a smoke-free environment in all public places, especially at parades, concerts, festivals and events, and downtown city streets, Casinos and Bars.”

– Mayor Ruth Carney, Hot Springs, Arkansas

Food & Education First

A city garden and a farmer’s market located near a low income neighborhood. Education is everything.”

– Mayor Marie Trisollini, Camden, Arkansas



Send us your answer to any one or more of these questions along with your name, role (mayor, healthcare worker, volunteer, etc) and city – even better if you send a picture! – and we’ll immortalize your support for healthy communities.

  1. Why is a healthy community important to you as a [role: ie mayor, teacher, etc]?
  2. What economic return have you seen as a result of helping your city become healthier?
  3. Is your county, town or neighborhood a 2014 Growing Healthy Community? How did you get to that level? What are you doing to maintain or surpass that status this year?
  4. Not recognized as a 2014 Growing Healthy Community? What is the value of applying this year?
  5. What components of a healthy city do you currently have?
  6. What have you done to help your city become healthier that didn’t cost any money?
  7. What have you don that was low-cost?
  8. Where have your community significantly invested?
  9. What kind of positive feedback do you hear from your community?
  10. Have you had to deal with negative push-back? If so, who does it come from (community members? business owners? elected officials?) and how have you handled it?
  11. If a community could make just one change to become healthier, what would you suggest?

Directions: Email your quote(s), name, role, city, and (optional) picture to