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Open Streets Bellefonte Aims to Promote Health and Community Connections

by on March 06, 2019 5:00 AM


Mount Nittany Health recently announced a new initiative called Open Streets Bellefonte, with the inaugural event to take place May 18 in the borough’s downtown.

So, what can locals expect? Nichole Monica, director, marketing and communications, Mount Nittany Health, said the the family-friendly event will create “paved parks” to promote physical activity, healthy food choices and community connections.

“By temporarily closing sections of Allegheny and High Streets, it will allow people of all ages to be active on the streets of Bellefonte — by foot, by bike or even by skateboard — and engage in a number of healthy activities, as well as with the businesses on those streets,” Monica said.

The event was made possible, in part, by a $10,000 gift from Northwest Bank

“There is a highly-engaged Open Streets committee, including staff from Northwest Bank, that is bursting at the seams with terrific programs and events to support the promotion of healthy behaviors and community connectedness, and we will start posting those to our Open Streets website as they are finalized,” Monica said.

Open Streets Bellefonte was initially inspired by comparable programs in other communities. UPMC Health Plan, for example, sponsors Open Streets Pittsburgh, which takes place certain weekends throughout the summer, with safe, free activities for families. It closes down some roads for walking, running, biking, skating, fitness classes and more, with local businesses getting in on the action as well, from regional vendors to food trucks showing up along the Open Streets Pittsburgh route.

Monica notes something similar “seemed a great fit” for picturesque and historic downtown Bellefonte.

Mount Nittany Health is regularly taking the advice and lifestyle tips one might hear in the doctor’s office out into the community, through initiatives such as Open Streets Bellefonte that provide a preventative approach to healthcare, Monica said. Rather than simply treat patients in a responsive manner for things like cardiovascular disease, they’re getting ahead of the game and encouraging community members to exercise and eat healthy, preventing the need for treatment later.

“We know that our community relies on us for exceptional care, both inside and outside of our doctors’ offices and hospital,” she said. “According to a recent health assessment of our communities, overall in our county, 30 percent of adults are overweight or obese, even though our county ranks as the second healthiest county in Pennsylvania. Our goal is to reduce that percentage to improve health and quality of life and reduce chronic disease. Open Streets Bellefonte is one of many ways, but a great example of our commitment to meet the needs of our community with fun ways to encourage people toward healthy behaviors.”

For the first Open Streets Bellefonte event, Monica says Mount Nittany Health’s primary goal is to simply “inspire and engage our Bellefonte neighbors to get active, eat well and build positive community connections.”

Stay tuned to the Open Streets Bellefonte website for upcoming news on the event and ways to get involved. Monica said more information will also soon be available on the website regarding the event’s unique sponsorship structure, allowing local businesses and nonprofits to play a role in the event.




Holly Riddle is a freelance food, lifestyle and entertainment writer. She can be reached at [email protected]
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