In 2000, more than half of Genesee County residents were inactive—contributing to a higher incidence of obesity, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and high cholesterol. That year, the Coalition’s Health Improvement Committee launched the Just A Bit Gets You Fit campaign in an effort to encourage physically inactive members of the community to exercise.
With support from local media, community-based organizations, government, employers, health insurers, and healthcare providers, the campaign increased awareness and physical activity. It also captured statewide attention and went on to receive the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness, Health and Sports “Educational Materials of the Year” Award before being adopted by other communities throughout the United States.
Health organizations in Anderson, Indiana; Kokomo, Indiana; Nashville, Tennessee; Kenosha, Wisconsin; and Kansas City, Missouri used the Just a Bit Gets You Fit slogan for similar campaigns in their cities—and Detroit, Michigan, used the model for its Motown in Motion fitness campaign.
The success of Just a Bit Gets You Fit spurred the Coalition and Mott Children’s Health Center to broaden the audience and launch Just a Bit Gets YOUth Fit, targeted to area young people. Through further funding from Mott Children’s Health Center, the campaign was extended to include information on good eating habits with the slogan of “Eat Good. Feel Good. Look Good.”
All three campaigns were well received within the community, helping to educate Genesee County residents on the benefits of exercise and good eating habits. Data collected by local health organizations and the Prevention Research Center of Michigan for 1998 – 2007 show the number of people reporting they exercise four or more times per week in the Flint Community increased from 28.8% to 35.5%.
Despite those encouraging statistics, the most recent 2007 data reveal some backsliding in the level of physical activity since 2003. That regression—along with the persistent incidence of chronic disease in the community—led the Coalition to make health status its overarching concern.