By Bob Coupland
HOWLAND As a newly formed health and wellness committee is working on improving their quality of life for residents, two local Girl Scouts will be doing their part to help. The committee met recently to set various goals and share ideas for healthy living and also heard from Scouts from Troop 598 who are planning community service projects. James Lapolla Jr., committee chairman, said sidewalks are an important element to healthy living. He said people like to walk to places like parks, where there can be walking trails and bike trails. Barbara Rosenblum, committee member, said she would like to get more people out in the parks and wetland areas to see nature. She said local Girl Scouts plan to complete Gold and Silver Award projects that include identifying plant life in the nature areas and having maps of the trails and starting a local food bank. Alex Hamilton of Troop 598 will create a food bank in Howland for her Gold Award, while Olivia Patchen will identify wild flowers and other plantlife along the wetlands for her Silver Award. Hamilton said there needs to be a local food bank in Howland which could be run by volunteers and members of the Howland High School Interact Club. Suggestions were made to possibly locate the pantry in the basement of the Howland Post Office. "The Warren Family Mission is the closest food pantry,'' she said. Patchen, who will spend time in the nature area of the park for her Silver Award project, suggested having many nature outdoor activities for the public during Earth Day. Rosenblum said the many Scout troops have done gardens in the wildlife areas and want to continue to promote the outdoor opportunities. The committee plans to present their ideas for the park to the township park board and mentioned exercise stations along the trails. Lapolla said the township is working on a comprehensive plan which could include recommendations from the health and wellness committee. "I want this to be a visible committee to help the township benefit," he said. Goals are: l To support healthy lifestyles by considering all public health impacts in land use, transportation and community design decisions; l To improve air quality and subsequent respiratory health; l To improve the environment to encourage active lifestyles by increasing and enhancing park and recreational facilities; l To establish a stronger local and regional food system with community gardens, farmers' markets, and small scale agriculture; l To improve access to medical, mental health and social services for residents l To improve water quality through greater consideration on land use decisions through preserving and enhancing existing watershed resources; The committee said they will focus on increasing physical activity with "highly walkable communities offering residents more opportunities to incorporate physical activity into their daily lives.'' Lapolla said the committee will provide educational information to residents on making healthier and nutritious food choices, injury prevention, access to recreational facilities, and a safe environment. What will be done is for a community health assessment to take place in the future that will provide recommendations to increase positive health outcomes and minimize adverse health. Committee member said a community food assessment would shed light on the quality, quantity , price and location of food retailers in Howland. In their proposed plan it is noted that communities throughout the Mahoning Valley have shown support of the Trumbull-Mahoning Green Pact to provide a healthier living environment for residents. The pact includes building green facilities and reducing energy consumption, reducing waste, preserving green space and creating greenways. The committee is looking for additional members. Meetings will be held at 6 p.m. on the third Wednesday of each month at Panera Bread. For more information, call 330-856-4444.