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Are you Certifiable?

Many organizations in Oklahoma have become certifiable - Certifiably Healthy that is!  What are they doing to reach that status?  They’re improving the culture of the places where they live, work, learn, and play.  By fostering healthy surroundings, they’re making it possible for people to choose good health every day.

The Certified Healthy program began back in 2003, with a vision of creating a healthier Oklahoma.  The idea was to formally recognize organizations committed to creating environments that support healthy choices, by certifying them as healthy. Currently, the Certified Healthy program has certified more than 1000 Oklahoma entities and has expanded to include 7 categories:

• Businesses
• Campuses
• Communities
• Congregations
• Early childhood programs
• Restaurants
• Schools  

Why is the Certified Healthy program important to Oklahomans?  There is a proven link between health and economic development - when there is a healthy population, economic benefits follow.   In fact, half of the overall economic growth in the US during the last century is associated with improvements in population health. When we consider that approximately one in six Oklahomans live in poverty, that Oklahoma has the 6th highest rate of obesity, the 3rd highest death rate due to heart disease, and is ranked 44th for general health in the nation, that link takes on significant meaning.  

Poor health and illness increases the economic burden to individuals, companies, and communities.  An unhealthy population generates greater public expenditures on all insurance programs, while a healthier population helps to reduce them.  For example, wellness programs have proven to lead to a 26% reduction in health care costs.  Spending more on insurance coverage, through increased co-insurance rates, reduces dollars available to spend on other quality of life areas.  From a public services standpoint, more insurance costs can cause a reduction in other investments like education, transportation, and other services.  Consequently, businesses prefer to locate in areas with healthier populations because not only are their costs lower, but research shows employee productivity is higher.  

Why is becoming Certified Healthy important to you, your organization and community?  Certified Healthy recipients not only receive recognition as a healthy place to live, work, learn, or play, Certified Healthy recognition:

• Can be used as a recruitment strategy to attract businesses.
• Can be used as a retention strategy for clients, employees, and students.
• Increases access to grant opportunities for schools and communities.
• Helps recipients gain customer recognition.
• Gives recipients enhanced image and credibility.

How can you apply to become Certified Healthy?  Start by visiting the website at certifiedhealthyok.com.  The annual application period is open now, and runs through November 1st.  There are three levels of certification (Basic, Merit, and Excellence) and certification is determined by a scoring process that varies by category (businesses, campuses, communities, congregations, early childhood programs, restaurants, and schools).  There are many ways to earn points towards certification that are both simple and inexpensive for organizations such as:

• Offering healthy snacks in snack vending machines
• Providing health education promotion materials like brochures or newsletters
• Providing a smoke-free or tobacco-free environment.  
• Posting nutritional information in break areas
• Developing nutrition, physical activity, and tobacco policies and enforcing them
• Providing space for breastfeeding mothers

Oklahoma currently ranks 46th on America’s Health Rankings, and those outcomes hurt our families, our finances, and our future.  By contributing to the wellness of those in your organization, you can help shape current and future generations. Start now to become Certified Healthy, and be recognized as a leader in the community!

For more information, or to apply to become Certified Healthy, visit: http://certifiedhealthyok.com/

For on-site assistance in becoming Certified Healthy, call Carole at the Ottawa County Health Department at 918-540-2481.

Carole Kimbrough – Health Educator
Ottawa County Health Department

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