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University of Iowa News Release


Oct. 29, 2007

'Activate Iowa' launches to improve health of Iowa's communities

Activate Iowa, a new outreach series devoted to enhancing the health and wellness of Iowans, will hold a kick-off program from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 1, in the East Tower Auditorium of Mercy Medical Center, 1111 6th Ave. in Des Moines.

The general public, as well as organizations and agencies involved in community health planning, are invited to attend the free event. Participants will have the opportunity to learn more about community health resources and engage in networking sessions to enhance health promotion efforts.

The event will begin with opening remarks by Dave Vellinga, chief executive officer of Mercy Health Network. Iowa Lt. Gov. Patty Judge will then comment on the future of wellness in Iowa. Kent Bottles, M.D., vice president and chief medical officer of the Iowa Health System, will give the keynote address, "Why Sidewalks Are as Important as Surgeons for Your Health."

"When most of us think of health care, we think about doctors, nurses and hospitals," Bottles said. "We rarely recognize that the single most important way for Iowans to improve their health and to prevent premature death is for them to change their unhealthy behaviors. For example, at the national level smoking causes 435,000 preventable deaths every year, and obesity and physical inactivity cause 365,000 avoidable deaths a year."

To attend the event or host an exhibit, visit or call Janice Baughman at 319-335-9880 for more information.

Future Activate Iowa programs will be held in Cedar Rapids, Des Moines, Dubuque, Mason City, Sioux City and Waterloo. The objectives of the series are to improve the health of Iowa's communities through citizen-focused education; identify grassroots resources to enhance and benefit community-based initiatives; and promote a collaborative, linked and sustained approach.

Activate Iowa is co-sponsored by the Iowa Department of Public Health, Iowa Health System, Mercy Health Network, the University of Iowa College of Public Health and Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Iowa.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa College of Public Health Office of Communications, 4257 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa 52242.

MEDIA CONTACT: Debra Venzke, College of Public Health, 319-335-9647,