HEAL Inititiatives promote healthier, more vibrant community (350)

ASHLAND — After nearly one year of planning and several community forums, the Ashland Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) Coalition has started to implement several projects designed to create a healthier, more vibrant community.
Members of the HEAL steering committee, including Ashland's town administrator, Paul Branscombe, are working with community members on town-wide projects including a healthy restaurant program, improvements to the walking and biking infrastructure, and a joint use agreement with the elementary school.
A joint agreement between the Ashland School District and the Town of Ashland will provide community members more opportunities for safe physical activity through access to school facilities including a nature path, playground and field.
These HEAL initiatives were selected based on input from residents and members of the business community. They are designed to provide more opportunities for residents to eat healthy and have safe access to physical activity well into the future.
For instance, the Joint Use Agreement with Ashland Elementary School will allow for upgrades to an existing nature trail and give the public access to the playground and field facilities. Construction of a community garden on the school grounds is also being discussed.
As part of the HEAL initiative, volunteers from the community have formed a new Bicycle-Pedestrian Committee to increase accessibility and safety for bicyclists and pedestrians in the town. This committee will work with the NHDOT Bicycle-Pedestrian Transportation Advisory Committee and will provide recommendations at a community forum later this year.
The Common Man Restaurant and Dot's Bread & Butter on Main Street in Ashland have already signed onto the healthy restaurant program and two more restaurants have expressed interest in participating. The program requires restaurants to offer healthy menu options to its patrons and provide clear menu labeling for the HEAL-recommended choices.
"The Common Man family is proud to not only support but also partner with HEAL in efforts to bring health conscious options and practices to the Ashland Community," said Jason Lyon, CEO of the Common Man Family.