Faith-based forum - HWCPeople are more powerful working together than separately. Case in point: West Chicago, a city of 27,000, is discovering what it can accomplish when a community collaborates on a common goal. The DuPage County city recently adopted a public health program called Healthy West Chicago that takes direct aim at the obesity epidemic. More than 15 partners as well as West Chicago residents and employers took part in this effort.

SGA, which manages the project, facilitated 10 community forums for parents, park district users, faith-based communities, the school district, seniors and other constituents. The forums took were held over several months starting in fall 2014. A survey collected input from 900 residents. Key institutions and technical experts across the metropolitan area also contributed their insights.

Ideas generated so far include enhancing and growing West Chicago's Farmer's Market and community garden program.

The groups are continuing to explore new ideas for adult recreation, including a new softball tournament for faith communities. The community already has an extensive bike trail network, but it wants to integrate biking into everyday life by making biking safer and easier downtown, near schools and to and from grocery stores. Another big idea: encourage restaurants to showcase Mexican culture through delicious, healthy menu choices.

Expect to hear about a brand new Healthy West Chicago Community Action Plan being rolled out in May 2015.

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