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West Valley City Journal

City formalizes Healthy West Valley Committee

May 08, 2023 03:42PM ● By Travis Barton

It’s been five years in the making. 

The West Valley City Council approved the creation of the Healthy West Valley Committee in late March. 

“We’re happy to promote the ordinance that would create them as an official body,” City Manager Wayne Pyle said prior to the vote. 

The decision was unanimous from the council with Councilmembers Don Christensen and Jake Fitisemanu being particular proponents of the group for years. 

“Thank you so much for supporting our coalition in making an effort to improve the health of people here in West Valley,” Kevin Nguyen, committee chair, told the council. 

The group first started meeting in 2018 as Healthy West Valley consisting of local officials and community organizations. While its first step was to gather data, its aims included promoting health and wellness, expanding education in the community and connecting resources and programs. 

Craig Thomas, director of neighborhood services, explained the group’s common interest was addressing the health of residents. Over the last year, the coalition created its own vision and mission statements to better organize its efforts. Members come from various community stakeholders including churches, healthcare providers, city officials, Salt Lake County, Granite School District and domestic services. 

“It’s a very diverse coalition with a lot of different partners and there’s a lot of collaboration in helping make West Valley a place for people to be healthy and to thrive,” said Julia Glade, a health educator with Salt Lake County and member of the committee. 

Thomas said it’s only a sample size of the interested parties as councilmembers have attended meetings as well as multiple divisions just within University of Utah Health. 

“The energy behind the group is pretty dynamic and groups are really interested in coming to the table and participating,” Thomas said. 

While the group could continue as its own coalition, Thomas and coalition members pointed to the upgraded level of commitment associated with official city status. 

“You’ve said the health of the citizens matters enough to make that a part of every single decision that you make and that is important,” Granger Christian Church Pastor Vinetta Wilkerson told the council, highlighting this committee as a “pathway.”

“It’s something I’m very proud to be associated with West Valley for and something that means lot to the community that we serve.” 

Besides the long-term stability that being a city committee brings, members also highlighted an improved efficiency with documentation, greater access to additional funding and grant opportunities and a stronger voice as reasons for the formalization. 

Thomas said the benefits help allow for further networking, a significant impact on the health of residents and an improved self-image as the city can “view itself as a healthy community.” 

For 2023, the committee is focused on three areas: health education and access, mental health and data, advocacy and funding.

Its work appeared on the same night the committee was formed as Christensen read a city proclamation declaring a “health in all policies” process within the city. The coalition, in collaboration with Salt Lake County and the nonprofit Get Healthy Utah, generated a “health lens checklist to support city departments in implementing a health-focus too in the work, policies and projects that impact residents within the city.” 

Nguyen, who was born and raised in West Valley City and works in public health, expressed just how grateful he is for this step having been with the coalition since it began.

“To have a city be really committed to make an impact on community health, it means a lot to me as a resident.”  λ