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Lancaster County is a finalist for prestigious health prize


(Lancaster) — Lancaster County is one of 14 finalists for a national prize recognizing communities working to make its residents healthier.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Culture of Health award typically goes to six communities across the country for taking a proactive stance on the health of residents.

Lancaster County could be the first Pennsylvania winner in the three-year history of the prize.

Alice Yoder, director of community health and wellness at Lancaster General Health, says it’s work is about shifting the mindset completely.

“How do we build an environment that makes the healthy choice the easy choice, so how do we make our communities more walkable, and more bikeable, so that in order to address increasing physical activity in the community, it’s more than just a simple program.”

Yoder says when the judges visit, she’ll take them to Washington Elementary in Lancaster, where programs ensure students are getting healthy meals, no matter the situation at home.

Winners are expected to be announced by the fall.

“We may be looking at a stigma campaign around mental well being, where many people in our community don’t necessarily feel comfortable talking about depression, anxiety and stress, and we want to sort of break that stigma and increase awareness about connecting the mind and the body,” says Yoder.

Yoder says even if the county doesn’t win, she plans to continue expanding her work.