The Wellness Center Team believes that we are more likely to live a healthy lifestyle if our home, our worksite, and environment encourage us to do so. By incorporating more sidewalks and bicycle lanes, increased public transportation and access to affordable fruits and vegetables, we create a community where the cheap and easy option is also the healthy option! Individual interventions will be difficult to sustain unless we support active lifestyles and healthy, affordable food in our environment. This is why we are working within our Klamath Falls community. Check out some of our projects below!
Klamath Falls was fortunate to be selected as the first community in Oregon to be a Blue Zones Project. The Blue Zones Project is a community well-being initiative that makes healthy choices easier in all the places we live, work and play. The Wellness Center team supports the Blue Zones Project, from working with our built environment in downtown Klamath Falls, to grocery stores incentives, to encouraging community involvement. Learn more about the Blue Zones concept by watching this short video. Find out about what Oregon is doing statewide to become the healthiest state here. And keep track of the exciting Blue Zones development in Klamath Falls here. Interested in getting involved in Klamath? Contact Jessie DuBose at Jessie.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Parks are important for communities in a myriad of ways, from improving physical activity and mental health to increasing tourism. They provide gathering spaces and improved quality of life, and also improve the economy: houses near parks sell 5-20% higher than comparable houses not located near a park, municipal revenues and property values increase, and parks attract more businesses. Because of this, members of the Wellness Team have been are working with a group of citizens to create two downtown green spaces.
The first park is called Sugarman's Corner and is at the corner of 6th and Main Street. It is a great space for gathering, enjoying lunch, live music, local art and more.
The second park will be called Klamath Commens and is located at the corner of Klamath Avenue and 11th Street. Including a splash pad, nature play, and a memorial to Dr. Stephanie Van Dyke, this park will be a cornerstone of the community. If you are interested in donating to the park in honor of Dr. Stephanie Van Dyke, please visit https://www.gofundme.com/stephaniespark.
We were fortunate to be awarded $104,000 from the Cambia Health Foundation to create GIS maps that show "hot spots" of health outcomes by neighborhood. The maps were produced by Dr. John Ritter, Director of OIT's GIS Department. Now, for the first time in Klamath, we can see the breakdown of chronic disease by neighborhood. For example, we can see the areas in town with the highest rates of diabetes, high blood pressure, or obesity. You can find an example of our maps to the right.
After gathering information from the GIS maps and conducting additional research, the Wellness Team used the remaining grant funding from the Cambia Health Foundation to embark on a separated bike lane project along Oregon Avenue, connecting Moore Park to downtown. The project was broken into two phases with Phase 1 connecting Biehn Street and downtown and Phase 2 connecting Biehn Street to Moore Park. Cascade Health Alliance provided $209,000 of funding to construct Phase 1, which was completed in June 2018.
Separated bike lanes increase physical activity levels, improve safety of pedestrians and bicycle riders, and they improve the perception of safety among drivers. They also improve economies: sales increase at local businesses; rents increase along the path; there is a decrease in commercial vacancies; tourism goes up; traffic slows; and there are fewer crashes and cycling injuries. You can find out more about this project at www.oregonave.comBeforeAfter
We were also fortunate to receive an $83,000 grant from the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department to build a trail connecting the Oregon Institute of Technology and Sky Lakes Medical Center called the Geo Trail. The Geo Trail will be a 6,000 foot long hiking and snowshoeing trail located on the hillside behind the campuses. Nearly half the trail (2,500 feet) will be ADA accessible, including the trailhead parking lot. It will link the two campuses to Crystal Terrace, provide scenic vistas of the Klamath Basin, and offer an opportunity for relaxation, education about geothermal and solar energy, and a new space for physical activity.
Healthy Klamath is an organization composed of a variety of stakeholders within the community that was formed in response to Klamath's poor health rankings. The Wellness Center team has played an important role in helping Healthy Klamath obtain a Transportation Growth Management grant from Oregon Department of Transportation to design a new Urban Trail Plan, hosting a Walk & Plant walking series, and working with many stakeholders to improve Klamath County's recreation resources. Find out more at www.healthyklamath.org.