Nashua mayor leads charge to boost public health week
NASHUA — Mayor Donnalee Lozeau had some good news for a crowd of walkers and bike riders who met Friday at City Hall for an annual lunchtime trip along the city's Rail Trail as part of National Public Health Week.
"I'm not leading the walk this year," laughed Lozeau, who was at the head of the line for the 2013 walk and added some extra footage to the 2.6 mile loop.
"I was chatting away and I missed the exit," said Lozeau.
But nobody who showed up for the annual event — a finale to weeklong schedule of demonstrations, talks and classes meant to promote healthy lifestyles — looked like they would mind going a little extra distance for a good cause.
"I'm amazed by the amount of community support we've had," said Melissa Whalen, a health program specialist for Nashua's Division of Public Health and Community Services. "We've had about 20 different organizations that partnered with us."
Nashua's Public Health Coordinator Beverly Doolan said there are three priority areas the city has been focused on: access to health services, mental health and obesity. Events like Monday's health fair at the Boys and Girls Club drew about 200 parents and children for some zumba lessons, dancing and other fitness activities that emphasized the fun side of healthy living.
Throughout the week there were also classes and workshops on food safety, emergency readiness, stress management as well as free vaccines and blood pressure clinics.
The Lunchtime Rail Trail trip is a highlight because so many people, regardless of age, can jump in and benefit.
"There are so many chronic diseases that can be helped by an active lifestyle," said Doolan.
Karen Baker, a program assistant for the Nashua Regional Planning Commission, was tapped to lead this year's walk.
"I'm not going to go too fast," said Baker, adding that the walk was about raising awareness about fresources for residents who wanted to lead healthier lives.
And that was one of Lozeau's main messages to walkers and riders.
"We're making progress on finishing up the last link of the River Walk," she said, adding that being active is easier when people have opportunities to get out and enjoy exercise.
"Nashua has a lot of these things," Lozeau added. "But making sure everyone is aware of them is a challenge."