April 13, 2022
Kids, families and communities in the northwest corner have benefitted greatly from the work of Fit Together for 10 years, and the future is bright for building on their success for many years to come.
Fit Together NWCT is a partnership created in 2011 by a group of community-based organizations and initially funded by a Sam’s Club grant through the YMCA of the USA. Their mission is to empower people to make healthy lifestyle choices – making the healthy choice the easy choice. Fit Together partners include Hartford HealthCare’s Charlotte Hungerford Hospital, NWCT YMCA, Torrington Area Health District, Friendly Hands Food Bank, Community Health and Wellness of Greater Torrington, New Opportunities, the City of Torrington and the Town of Winsted. This group began by supporting school gardens, promoting the importance of daily physical activity and getting their message out at community wellness fairs.
Within two years, Fit Together hired its first Coordinator and adopted Maine’s 5210 Let’s Go! model, a nationally recognized childhood obesity prevention program, that focuses on increasing opportunities for healthy eating and active living in a simple, easy to understand format: 5 servings of fruits and veggies, 2 healthy screen time habits, 1 hour of physical activity and 0 sugary drinks each day.
Using this model, Fit Together began by developing programs with early childcare centers in the region and continues to expand the message of 5210 Let’s Go! through schools, after school programs, healthcare practices, workplaces and community outreach. Participating sites set up wellness teams and work to earn Gold Level Partner status as they instill 5210 Let’s Go! evidenced-based strategies in their daily activities.
In 2018, through their affiliation with Charlotte Hungerford Hospital in Torrington, Hartford HealthCare awarded a five year, $500,000 grant to Fit Together NWCT. This has allowed Fit Together to give 22 mini grants, thus far, to northwest Connecticut organizations for projects that align with their mission such as outdoor play equipment, exercise stations for fitness trails, school and community gardens, bottle filling stations and much more. With the help of the mini grants, these initiatives by senior centers, schools, childcare centers and other charitable groups advance the well-being of our communities and make them stronger and healthier.
NWCT Fit Together’s work did not stop during the last two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, but instead they implemented new and creative events to engage families, friends and neighbors such as Visit the Park contests, greenway scavenger hunts, farmers market food demos, games and hike fests. Virtual cook and learn classes with a registered dietician and fitness instructors helped families stay connected even as they were staying safe at home.