Health & Fitness

Thurston Thrives hits its stride

Everyone wants to live a healthful, happy and productive life. But going to the doctor is not the only tool in their health toolbox. In addition to excellent clinical care, being healthy requires being active, eating healthful foods and being connected. It also takes living in physical, social and economic environments that support healthful living.

Thurston Thrives is the Thurston County Board of Health’s call to action to improve the health of all Thurston County residents. The initiative brings sectors together to create and promote the conditions that contribute to individual and community health. Working across sectors to address social issues is called “collective impact.”

Now in its second year, Thurston Thrives involves more than 100 local organizations and 300 individuals. Thurston County Public Health and Social Services has been working with dedicated volunteers from the community on this initiative through its action teams. Each action team addresses an aspect of health in our community and has developed a vision for the future:

Child and youth resilience: We live in a community where all children of all cultures are healthy, safe, valued and successful.

Education: Every child completes high school, earns a post-secondary credential and has skills to find living-wage employment.

Clinical and emergency care: More people live longer, healthier lives because they take care of themselves and receive the right care at the right place at the right time.

Environment: The environment of our community contributes to everyone’s health.

Community design: People are physically active in their daily lives.

Food: Everyone has enough safe, nourishing food.

Community resilience: We are a connected, trusting and welcoming community that generates innovative, effective actions to build a healthy, thriving community.

Housing: Affordable, adequate and safe housing is available for all.

Economy: Employers and workers build their skills to reduce poverty.

While the county provided the startup energy for the initiative, it is looking for other organizations to be the backbone of ongoing efforts.

Many actions are needed to move our community toward better health, and while many are underway, many more will begin in the next couple of years. We hope that you will participate in helping Thurston County thrive. By volunteering in support of one of Thurston Thrives’ strategies, you’ll be helping your fellow residents and yourself.

Ways to volunteer include mentoring a child or helping out a school as part of the Child & Youth Resilience Action Team strategy of building resilience, or the Education Action Team strategy of providing better support or more engaging learning. When we connect with and support others, we boost our own health in the process.

Here are a few other ideas for how you can improve the health of our community:

• Help at the food bank.

• Support the development of trails or help maintain one.

• Participate in a Habitat for Humanity project.

• Maintain your septic system and learn how you can keep our waters clean.

• Volunteer anywhere.

Find out more about how you can get involved or join the conversation about the strategies at

Reach Dr. Rachel C. Wood, health officer for Thurston and Lewis counties, at 360-867-2501, woodr@co.thurston.wa.u, or @ThurstonHealth on Twitter.