Harlingen on a health kick

HARLINGEN — The city has dressed up the parks, opened up another bike and hike trail and even created a healthy Harlingen council.

It’s important to be healthy and local leaders know it. They are making an effort to educate everyone in Harlingen to live healthier.

One of the top stories of 2015 was this effort right here in the city. And its far from over.

In November, Mayor Chris Boswell initiated a wellness council to forge a path and lead the area to promote health and wellness in the community.

“We are creating a healthier and more fit Harlingen,” Boswell said.

The plan is to introduce better nutrition and physical activity to fight chronic disease.

A group of 85 concerned citizens, educators and local leaders have joined the council. They meet once a month at the Harlingen School of Health Professions auditorium to talk about the issues and strategies to promote wellness.

Statistics show, the projected percentage of obesity in 2030 will be 90 percent and children born in 2000 are 33 percent more likely to have Type 2 diabetes.

Obesity and diabetes are a result of an unhealthy lifestyle and 26 countries in the world have better life expectancy than the U.S., according to Dr. Belinda Reininger, professor at UT School of Public Health.

“The Mayor’s Wellness Council is looking at transforming the health of Harlingen and the surrounding communities,” said Dr. Baker Harrell, CEO for It’s Time Texas.

It’s Time Texas provides people and cities the tools and guidance needed to become healthier and hosts the largest health conference in the state annually in Austin.

“It’s Time Texas” is helping the council reach its goals.

It’s clear the wellness council is pulling its resources to promote a healthier Harlingen.

“We feel like it’s an important move for our city,” said Sandra Flinn, Mayor’s Wellness Council chairwoman. “To bring together all of our city to promote a healthy city, because that is what we should do.”

According to Flinn the Wellness Council will be reporting short-term and long-term goals to the Harlingen city commission in early of 2016