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May 23, 2013

Health policy fellow engages with community to create healthier Loma Linda

Andrejs Galenieks points to local policy ideas developed during a Healthy Loma Linda workshop.

One Loma Linda resident and School of Public Health student is working hard to make sure Loma Linda remains a “Blue Zone” and is as healthy as it can be.

Andrejs Galenieks is a Randall Lewis Health Policy Fellow in the M.P.H. health policy and leadership program. Since starting a fellowship with the City of Loma Linda in July 2012, he has helped design the Healthy Loma Linda initiative to make healthy, positive strives within the community.

The initial goal of Healthy Loma Linda was for the city to join the county-wide Healthy Cities Initiative. To start, Mr. Galenieks organized a workshop to kick off Healthy Loma Linda in November 2012 with a strong focus on the built environment. At the meeting, participants identified areas viewed as healthy or of concern throughout the city. They also solidified breakout groups which came up with three priorities to help drive the Healthy Loma Linda workshop series: pedestrian and bike safety, food environment, and a desire for a downtown in Loma Linda. Focus groups have since discussed these priorities further.

The first of these workshops was held in March and focused on pedestrian and bike safety, paths and connectivity.

The second workshop took place in April, entitled “Let’s Talk Food.” Loma Linda Mayor Rhodes “Dusty” Rigsby opened the session with strong backing of the initiative. Other highlights included informing and gathering community support to host a weeknight Loma Linda Farmers’ Market on the LLU campus and creating a working group to help draft policies in support of more healthy food options for Loma Linda.

The third session, scheduled for Thursday, May 23, will be focused on the vision and importance of having a downtown or a university village.

Mr. Galenieks organized all of these sessions with the help of Lizzy Foulkes, an M.P.H. in global health student; Brandon Shamim, who has been involved previously with the Healthy Communities Initiative; and Juan Carlos Belliard, Ph.D., director of Loma Linda University's Institute for Community Partnerships.

Mr. Galenieks said he is enjoying his experience working with Healthy Loma Linda and that “seeing things move forward, even if it’s slow at times, has been rewarding. It is also rewarding seeing the community come together."

He credits support from faculty, staff and fellow students for the program's success: Dora Barilla, Dr.P.H.; Renate Krause, Ph.D.; Juan Carlos Belliard, Ph.D.; and particularly Lizzy Foulkes.

Mr. Galenieks will graduate with his M.P.H. in June 2013, and he will join the Loma Linda University Health Institute for Health Policy and Leadership.

To find out more about Healthy Loma Linda, visit facebook.com/HealthyLomaLinda.

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