Healthy Central Florida Launches Walks to Build Health

Walking is good for you, and that includes the body and spirit. It’s also social and it’s fun. That’s why Healthy Central Florida (HCF) organizers are providing ways for everyone to join in.

It is just one of many tools being used by HCF, a community-based initiative founded by the Winter Park Health Foundation (WPHF) and Florida Hospital, to help Central Florida become the healthiest community in the U.S.

Just over a year old, HCF has recruited and trained teams of community leaders in Winter Park, Maitland and Eatonville to work on policy and environmental change, and they are well on their way to developing strategic action plans to meet the needs of their community.

In the meantime, HCF is encouraging everyone to join in the movement by taking a walk.

“Since 70% of the chronic diseases that kill most Americans are preventable, we’re encouraging people to start walking – the activity that research shows can make the biggest difference in child and adult health,” said Jill Hamilton Buss, executive director of Healthy Central Florida.

One of the latest additions to the initiative is “Walk with a Doc”, a weekly walk beginning September 12. It will enable walkers to spend time with and get to know outstanding physicians and ask medical questions in an informal, relaxed, and fun way–all while meeting new friends who are also interested in getting healthy.

Walkers will meet at the Peggy and Philip B. Crosby YMCA Wellness Center at 5:30 p.m. each Thursday for the 30-minute walks. They are free and open to everyone. Walks will take place rain or shine because the YMCA has offered the use of its indoor track in inclement weather.

For more information about this and other HCF supported walks, click here.

To encourage kids to walk and bike to school—once the norm in most communities, HCF is once again offering a Walk and Bike to School Workshop. The workshop is free and open to anyone interested in promoting walking and biking to school.  It will take place from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., September 18 at the Winter Park Community Center. Anyone interested in participating in the workshop should contact Asher Levine at [email protected]

For those looking for a walk with the emphasis on community fun, HCF will once again host the Mayors’ Sole Challenge—a lively community competition to see who can bring out the most walkers.  Led by the mayors of Winter Park, Maitland and Eatonville, it takes place on November 16, 2013 and this year there’s a new twist, featuring one of the best DJs in town, walkers can opt to “dance walk”! It’s free and a very family-friendly, fun way to spend a Saturday morning.

In other work, HCF also recently awarded Health Innovation Grants totaling $25,000 to the 10 local organizations presenting the most innovative, change-making ideas to increase active living.

In addition, HCF has:

  • Completed the first in-depth study of the physical, emotional, and nutritional health of residents in Winter Park, Maitland and Eatonville, published in the report “State of Our Health” to serve as a baseline to measure change
  • Helped establish and promote walking groups in local communities
  • Created Find Active Fun, an online source of hundreds of ideas of low cost, active fun for families at
  • Assisted with the passage of Smoke Free Parks Resolutions in all three cities, and the Complete Streets Resolution in Winter Park
  • Recruited more than 1,000 people to date to sign the “3:30:3 Pledge” whereby residents pledge to be active three times a week, for thirty minutes a day for 3 months
  • Hosted a “Smoke-Free Weekend” at the Winter Park Village, where nearly all of the restaurants offered totally smoke-free dining on their outdoor patios
  •  Hosted a collection of health-enhancing activities during Health Week.

Stay tuned–there is a lot more to come!

For more information on HCF, go to or contact Jill Hamilton Buss, HCF Executive Director, at [email protected] or at 407-644-2300, ext. 238.