Photo Credit: Cody Mann, Headlight Herald
The Tillamook County Wellness “Why I’m In” interview series highlights our community partners and what has inspired and motivated them to work toward the common goal of improving community health. You can learn more about our partners at tillamookcountyhealthmatters.org.
“WHY I’M IN …” Suzanne Weber, Mayor, City of Tillamook and Wellness Task Force Member
What drew you/your organization into the Year of Wellness, now Tillamook County Wellness?
Weber: I have always been committed to well-being and have been involved in health promotion at the state level and through my 30 years of prior teaching experience. This is invaluable work. I appreciate how this is being addressed from a greater scope, calling attention to issues affecting health.
What, if any, changes have you seen come about as a result of this work?
Weber: There is an increased focus – a refocus – on how wellness can be achieved through improved nutrition, exercise and other aspects. People and organizations are coming together, learning from each other. It’s not just about physical health, but also about mental wellbeing. I am seeing progress. It’s making a difference.
One of the things the City has done is to expand walkability through sidewalk improvements, such as those along 12th Street near Tillamook High School. People are walking more. It’s a safety issue. The City has also incorporated physical activity into all transportation planning, including along the clinic-to-college route, which features a bike lane and the addition of sidewalks along Third Street. We have seen increased involvement with healthcare partners, such as the addition of an exercise station next to Adventist Health’s clinic on Third Street and Birch Avenue, the first of what is hoped to be many such stations along that route.
What have you learned from being involved in this work?
Weber: I have learned you don’t give up. You keep at it. You keep repeating things, telling people about ways to improve their health habits, giving them opportunities to engage.
What are your hopes for this work as it relates to you/your organization?
Weber: Once the City Hall renovation is complete, we will have our own small gym space in the basement. We have a wellness committee and we plan to expand our program, adding competitions and will be looking at staff participation at the YMCA. We have 29 employees. The nature of our public works projects creates a lot of physical work requirements. We want our employees to be safe and fit.
What are your hopes for this work as it relates to changing population health in Tillamook County.
Weber: My hope is that we increase interconnectivity between the cities that make up Tillamook County – that we are a “united county” in terms of improving population health for all residents. There is good work being done in various communities. It would be nice to see all of those things tied together as a reflection of our county-wide focus on improving health and well-being. I am amazed how many people from different walks of life have taken on this work as vital. All the different sectors are participating. It’s wonderful.