I still remember how shocked I was when I learned that my county had some of the worst rates of obesity in all of California. Seventy-two percent of adults in the San Bernardino County, of which Fontana is part of, are overweight or obese.

This hit especially close to home for me: even though I was born in Compton, California, I call Fontana home because it is a city that has allowed me to grow personally and professionally. I moved to Fontana in 1993 and since then have worked in public office to serve my community. In 2010, I had the great honor to become the first African American mayor of Fontana.

As a proud resident of Fontana, I wanted to give back to the city that had given me so much. I felt it was my duty as an elected official ­­of the Fontana City Council to do something about the obesity rates in San Bernardino so in 2004, I launched Healthy Fontana, a program created to inform, educate, and promote healthier eating and a more active lifestyle.

Healthy Fontana has become a social engine of change in the way people eat, exercise and live. The program is built upon four pillars: nutrition, active living, smart growth, and partnerships. However, I have no doubt as to what holds all the pieces together: community involvement.

The Power of Community

I believe that for any civil endeavor to succeed, it must be community-based: from the business sector to the residents, from government to non-profits, the involvement of every sector of our community is imperative for success. We designed Healthy Fontana with that thought in mind.

Take Fontana Walks! – one of the most successful elements of the program. We wanted to motivate people to be more active, and walking was the perfect activity: it’s easy, free, and a great opportunity to spend time with someone. To make it fun, we made it a challenge: could residents reach a cumulative goal of 1 billion steps in one year? The healthy competition was on.

Healthy Fontana Bike to School Day

Two years later, over 2,000 people have committed to walking daily and the community as a whole have walked over 6.7 billion steps. That’s equivalent to 3.3 million miles!

So far, Fontana has experienced a 46 percent reduction in hospitalization rates for obesity-related diseases and a 47 percent reduction in obesity rates.

But there is another element as crucial as community participation, and that is the support of our partners.

Partnerships that Boost Positive Impact

Since Healthy Fontana started, over 50 different agencies and organizations have partnered with us in one way or another. We have partnered with non-profit organizations, medical centers, elected officials, small businesses, community members, and more. This has allowed us to broaden Healthy Fontana’s reach in amazing ways.

Our “Let’s Move on the Trail” annual event is a great example of just how far these kind of support goes. It is a free event where people can get active by walking, running, or biking through the 21 miles of the Pacific Electric Trail. There are live demonstrations on safety and emergency preparedness from the Police and Fire departments, plus delicious samples from local vendors.

Herbalife Nutrition is one of the sponsors of the “Let’s Move on the Trail” 2019 event. This kicks off our partnership with the company, framed in their broader Healthy Communities initiative.

Herbalife Nutrition will support Healthy Fontana to promote healthy, active lifestyles, nutrition education, and overall wellness by supporting community fitness events and promoting nutrition education by sharing their expert blog content on the Healthy Fontana website.

Creating Greater Awareness

Healthy Fontana’s resounding success is, in great part, possible thanks to the support and collaboration from and with many various partners like Herbalife Nutrition. Through help from our partners, the program will continue to create greater awareness of health in our community and inspire people to make impactful changes to their lifestyle that help us all live healthier lives.

Healthy Fontana is near and dear to my heart because it is a community effort. Every participant is working together to build a healthier city, and that is something we can all be proud of.