Mass in Motion

In 2009, recognizing the importance of community-wide mobilization to address obesity and its multiple adverse outcomes, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health launched a multifaceted “Mass in Motion” initiative that included policy, regulatory, and public health education components, as well as Municipal Wellness and Leadership Grants. These grants, supported by both public and private funding, engaged multi-sector coalitions in 14 original cities in policy, environmental, and systems change to promote healthy eating and active living in their communities. Mass in Motion New Bedford is one of these original coalitions that has built a sound infrastructure and laid the groundwork for more intensive interventions such as Mass in Motion Kids.

New Bedford is one of the original gateway cities in Massachusetts that was awarded the Municipal Wellness and Leadership grant to work on prevention of chronic diseases related to obesity through increased physical activity and healthy eating.(With recent Federal funding, the number of cities and towns has increased to 53 representing 33% of the state’s population.) Mass in Motion New Bedford is currently focusing on Community Action Plan goals and objectives that include support of built environment initiatives for healthier communities, with emphasis on the following five sectors: health care, schools, worksites, community institutions/organizations and the community-at-large.

Some of our current activities, projects and coalition/partner successes include:
Increasing walking and biking through:

  • New Bedford Bicycle Committee (see Projects for more detail)
  • Collaboration with Mass in Motion Fall River, UMASS Dartmouth and SRPEDD to create a South Coast Regional Bikeway, now with 8 towns and cities
  • Collaboration with MassDOT, MassRIDES (ongoing technical assistance and support)
  • New Bedford-Fall River Bike Ride: People on Bicycles Connecting Southcoast Communities; other regional biking events
  • Southcoast Regional Bikeway Summit
  • Safe Routes to Schools: All New Bedford public schools were enrolled as partners of Mass DOT by NBPS Superintendent
  • Citywide participation in the International and Statewide Walk and Bike to School Days since 2010
  • Community presentations and school health fairs
  • Walk Boston trainings (ongoing)

Creating opportunities for better nutrition through:

  • Healthy Dining New Bedford (see Projects for more detail)
  • Healthy Snack Policies for recipients of CDBG funding
  • Victory Park Children’s Garden (see Projects for more detail)
  • Mass in Motion New Bedford Soda Free Challenge initiative throughout the City, parks and recreation, youth groups, public housing
  • Support of local Farmers’ Markets throughout the City of New Bedford
  • Healthy Vending policy work with VOICES for a Healthy SouthCoast
  • Healthy Meals programs with New Bedford Parks and Recreation department

Other coalition and partner successes include:

  • City of New Bedford awarded Childhood Obesity Research Demonstration Grant (see Mass in Motion Kids for details)
  • City of New Bedford awarded 4th Municipal Wellness and Leadership Grant by MDPH
  • Mass in Motion New Bedford awarded Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation’s Growing Up Healthy grant
  • Distribution of the New Bedford Mass in Motion School Health and Wellness Resource Manual to all NB public schools, featuring the First Lady, Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” initiative
  • Adoption of the District-wide School Wellness Policies in New Bedford Public Schools in collaboration with the NBPS Health Advisory Council
  • Adoption of a Board of Health Resolution for a Healthier Community through the Built Environment and Community Design
  • Contributions to the New Bedford City Master Plan 2020 regarding public health, the built environment and opportunities for physical activity and healthy eating
  • Massachusetts Comprehensive Cancer Prevention grant awarded to VOICES for a Healthy Southcoast with ongoing policy work in physical activity, healthy eating, healthy vending, tobacco pharmacy bans, smokefree perimeters
  • New Bedford Bicycle Committee awarded a United Way of Greater New Bedford’s Community Building Mini-Grant (for bicycle safety education)
  • Collaboration with GNB Allies for Health and Wellness’ Health Equity Initiative (ongoing)
  • Greater New Bedford Health Equity Initiative launch with Federal, State and Local leaders participating
  • Greater New Bedford Health Equity Summit
  • Assisted with the Greater New Bedford Allies for Health and Wellness Community Health Assessment Report, focusing on at-risk youth, elders and intergenerational activities in the Greater New Bedford area
  • MA Dept. of Public Health Regional Health Dialogues (MiM New Bedford as presenter and participant)
  • Abraham Lincoln Elementary School Asst. Principal received “Rookie of the Year” award from MassDOT for New Bedford’s participation in International Walk to School Day
  • New Bedford Bicycle Committee members receive certification in MassRIDES: The League of American Bicyclists for Traffic Skills 101
  • Healthy Southcoast by Design 2-day workshop and tour with Mark Fenton, National Pedestrian Advocate (co-sponsored with VOICES for a Healthy Southcoast)
  • Community Health Network Legislative Breakfasts featuring Mayors Lang and Flanagan, City Leaders, state Representatives including Antonio Cabral, Paul Schmid, David Sullivan, and U.S. Congressman Barney Frank, and others, as well as renowned presenters Mark Fenton (Southcoast by Design), Tony Geraci (Food for Thought)
  • Southcoast Outdoor Network brings national author Richard Louv to New Bedford
  • AHA! Night featuring Healthy Dining New Bedford restaurants and the New Bedford Bicycle Committee
  • Invited participants/presenters at Policy Link Equity Summit (Detroit), Prevention for Health Caucus (State House, Boston); MiM Action Institute (Cape and Islands); Public Health Council (Boston); Governor Patrick/ Surgeon General’s visit to Boston (Northeastern University); CDC Comprehensive Cancer Control Forum (Atlanta), American Public Health Association (Washington DC), Ounce of Prevention (MA), others