Be Healthy Berrien initiates Niles projects

BERRIEN COUNTY — The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services  has awarded $90,000 to the Be Healthy Berrien partnership as part of the Michigan Health and Wellness 4×4 Grant Program.

With the Berrien County Health Department acting as the fiduciary for these funds, Be Healthy Berrien said the organization will continue its work of increasing physical activity and healthy eating, with the project focus being several new initiatives in the Niles area.

Four projects will be funded through this grant, including exploring opportunities to extend the Indiana-Michigan River Valley trail to Berrien Springs, conducting a feasibility study to extend Niles Dial-A-Ride services, creating a Niles historical site bicycle tour, and working with businesses to serve healthy food options within their worksites.

Key partners in this project will include the Berrien County Health Department, Bike Michiana Coalition, Friends of the Indiana-Michigan River Valley Trail, Niles Community Development, Niles Dial-A-Ride, Niles History Center, and Southwest Michigan Planning Commission. This project is expected to extend continuously for five years, funded at $90,000 annually, contingent upon availability of funds from MDHHS.

“Our built environment is increasingly recognized as being associated with our health outcomes,” said Nicki Britten, health officer at the Berrien County Health Department. “We are excited to continue working across sectors to help impact healthy community design and improve access to healthy eating and physical activity for our residents.”

This is the seventh year that Be Healthy Berrien has been awarded a Michigan Health and Wellness 4×4 Grant. The Michigan Health and Wellness 4×4 Plan was launched in 2012 and spells out Michigan’s priorities for obesity prevention.  The 4×4 Plan is one way that Michigan is working to improve health by creating healthy communities, expanding prevention activities, and empowering people to make healthy choices.

Be Healthy Berrien is a county-wide partnership of Berrien County Health Department, Southwest Michigan Planning Commission, Spectrum Health Lakeland, United Way of Southwest Michigan and YMCA of Southwest Michigan.  The organization said it is working together with a goal to reduce obesity and chronic illness by creating healthy places to live, work, learn, and play. For more information about Be Healthy Berrien, visit BeHealthyBerrien.org.

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