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Community Center Awarded for Promoting Cardiovascular Health

The Mansfield Community Center was honored for providing widespread access to health and fitness programs and equipment for the community.

The received a Cardiovascular Health Promotion Award from the  (EHHD) Tuesday morning in recognition of center employees' work to promote healthy heart behavior in the community.

The Second Congregational Church of Coventry and VNA East, Inc were also recognized.

Slightly more than a dozen people gathered at the Mansfield Community Center to participate in the ceremony and raise heart health awareness.

“We’re confronted with a very daunting challenge,” EHHD Director of Health Robert Miller said before presenting the awards. He said that more than 70 percent of health care costs can be attributed to chronic and preventable diseases, such as heart disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Web site, heart disease is the leading killer of men and women and likely costs the country $316.4 billion in health care and lost productivity in 2010 alone.

EHHD Health Education Program Coordinator Ande Bloom said that the health organization aims to inspire the community in the fight for cardiovascular health.

“It’s important to bring attention to things we’re doing well,” Bloom said. “People start to see and gain momentum.”

The Mansfield Community Center was selected for promoting healthy and active living for the community, including lower-income individuals. The center provides a reduced rate for those who want to use its facilities, but cannot afford the regular fee.

“We try to reach out to all fitness levels,” said Jay O’Keefe, assistant director of Parks & Recreation. He added that the center provides active living facilities, lectures and health seminars. The Community Center has a swimming pool, basketball court, fitness center and dance room available to the Mansfield community.

“It’s nice to be recognized,” O’Keefe said.

The award recipients are selected after applying and explaining how their organization works to decrease cardiovascular risk factors in their community. The risk factors include lack of exercise, poor diet, smoking and high blood pressure. The Second Congregational Church of Coventry was also recognized for starting a community garden that has provided fresh vegetables to those in need for the past seven to eight years.

Michael Loferski, church member and part of the Top of the Hill Gang, a group of retired men who work on the garden, said he and his partners are happy to provide fresh vegetables to the community.

“We’re very into healthy eating and healthy behavior,” Loferski said. “We also get our workout for free.”

These local organizations are recipients of the 2010 CVH Promotion Awards. Bloom, the EHHD education program director, said the award ceremony was held in February since it is, fittingly, American Heart Awareness Month.

EHHD has been recognizing community contributions to cardiovascular health for three years. The cardiovascular program, Matters of the Heart Partnership, is partially funded by a grant from the State Department of Public Health.

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