Mount Nittany Health's inaugural Open Streets Bellefonte on May 18 drew more than 1,000 people to the borough's downtown for the healthy community event.
The four-hour event, the first of its kind in the region, created "paved parks" on High and Allegheny Streets that provided activity hubs for all ages and fitness levels, from dancing to yoga to aerobics to hula-hooping. Sponsored in part by Northwest Bank, the day also featured wellness-themed educational activities and brought community members together.
“Our roots are in this community, and so is our future,” Nichole Monica, Mount Nittany Health director of community health and outreach said in a news release. “Open Streets Bellefonte allows us to build on that commitment with an event that extends the advice of our doctors' offices to the open streets of this beautiful community. When we had the opportunity to partner with Northwest Bank to open the streets to health for our Bellefonte neighbors, the collaboration just made good sense.”
There was plenty of fun to be had throughout the day with popular stops on the streets — which were closed to motor vehicle traffic—including an Ultimate Ninja Warrior Challenge, a rodeo playground, oversized classic yard games, sidewalk chalk art, healthy snacks, and a smoothie tasting.
Families walked and biked through the closed streets of downtown Bellefonte, which became paved parks for Open Streets Bellefonte on May 18, 2019. Photo provided/Mount Nittany Health
The most recent community health needs assessment conducted by Mount Nittany Health, in partnership with Centre Foundation, Centre County United Way and Centre County Government, identified chronic disease, including heart disease and diabetes, as a key priority. Healthy weight management and good diet and exercise habits are important to improving the health and wellness of the community, and Mount Nittany Health saw Open Streets Bellefonte as one way to promote healthier living.
“At Mount Nittany Health, our mission is to make people healthier, and this initiative reflects our continued commitment to go beyond responding to chronic disease to taking a preventative approach to healthcare in our community," Monica said. "Open Streets Bellefonte is an innovative and fun way to promote healthy behaviors in our communities.”
Centre Foundation, Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital of Nittany Valley, Centre Crest, Harmony of State College, The YMCA of Centre County, Bellefonte Art Museum for Centre County and Centre Moves were among the sponsors for Open Streets Bellefonte.
Similar programs have been popular in other communities, inspiring Mount Nittany Health to develop one for the Centre County area.
“The initial idea for the event was inspired by seeing similar programs flourish in other communities, and it seemed a great fit for the scenic streets of our historic Bellefonte community and the healthy culture of community connectedness that already exists in this community,” Monica said.
Chalk drawing was one of many activities during the inaugural Open Streets Bellefonte on May 19, 2019. Photo provided/Mount Nittany Health