Baytown, TX is the first stop in our free Building Healthier Communities workshop series for Texans seeking more effective ways to collaborate for community health. As the inaugural site for the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center’s Be Well Communities initiative, it is also home to a comprehensive place-based strategy aimed at cancer prevention and control. Learn more about this groundbreaking collaboration, which has touched the lives of 67% of Baytown residents since launching in 2017.
Approximately 50 percent of cancer cases may be prevented by applying knowledge we already have in hand today. However, there is still a huge gap between what we know and what we act upon. The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center developed Be Well Communities™ to address this gap and take the critical step of putting knowledge into action.
Be Well Communities unites individuals, schools, workplaces, government agencies, health care providers and policy-makers to carry out community-led solutions that will make positive, long-lasting changes in people’s lives. The effort is part of MD Anderson’s cancer prevention and control platform, an engine to enable evidence-based programs in cancer prevention in the community.
Baytown, the third-largest city in Harris County, was selected as the inaugural Be Well Community™. We launched Be Well™ Baytown in 2017 to mobilize the community to promote wellness and stop cancer before it starts. Be Well Baytown is an initiative of MD Anderson sponsored by ExxonMobil.
Be Well Baytown focuses on five modifiable cancer risk factors: diet, physical activity, preventive care, tobacco, and ultraviolet radiation (UVR) exposure. Through collaboration with 16 organizations who serve Baytown, the initiative already has had a direct impact on 67% of residents.
These efforts include a variety of health programs and wellness resources designed to help limit UVR exposure and improve diet and physical activity. Hearts of Hands of Baytown and the United Way of Greater Baytown Area and Chambers delivered nearly 450,000 pounds of fresh produce through mobile food fairs; Goose Creek CISD teachers delivered CATCH® PE, a research-based school wellness program, to more than 12,000 students; Baytown Family YMCA walking club participants logged over 10,000 minutes of walking; and the initiative has helped to provide thousands of residents with access to sunscreen dispensers and sun shades in areas throughout the community.
While we work all year to positively impact the lives of residents, Baytonians are especially excited between January and March to participate in the It’s Time Texas Community Challenge. Last year, which was just our second year to compete, Baytown was proud to earn fifth place for a mid-sized city. Goose Creek CISD, our school district partner, earned third place.
The Be Well Baytown Steering Committee serves as our local health collaborative, supporting others to take action. The United Way of Greater Baytown Chambers County led many of our efforts this year, such as posting signs in store windows, enrolling residents at local events and hosting challenges in their offices and around town to encourage people to be healthy.
We’re determined to engage even more people next year and, more importantly, build upon the momentum coming from the Challenge to positively impact peoples’ health every day. We know that it’s those everyday activities that will make a difference over the long term. It is through our collective actions that we are building a healthier community together.
Coming to Baytown, Garland, and McAllen in 2019, the Building Healthier Communities workshop series for any Texan seeking more effective ways to collaborate for community health. Learn more about Building Healthier Communities and reserve your seat at the table at www.itstimetexas.org/bhc.