Healthy Communities

Well-ahead Louisiana supports healthy communities work in bogalusa

Over the past year, Well-Ahead Louisiana has provided coaching to community leaders and residents of Bogalusa to develop a Mayor’s Wellness Council and healthy community coalition – Bogalusa Strong! One of Bogalusa Strong’s goals is to build a community that supports active living. In June 2018, Well-Ahead sponsored a Healthy Community Design Workshop and Walk Audit led by Mark Fenton, a national public health, planning, and transportation consultant who helps communities become healthier and more active places to live. These workshops are designed to assist communities in building environments, policies and programs that help to create places where more people want to walk, bike, and play!

On day one, Fenton led a small group of city leaders on a windshield tour of the community to explore the challenges to, and supports for, healthy lifestyles. On day two, more than 50 stakeholders and community members participated in a workshop that included a presentation of best practices and a facilitated walk audit to explore some typical conditions in the community on foot.

Following the walk audit, Fenton lead a work session in which participants developed both short and long-term recommendations to improve the health of the community – many of which were simple and low-cost solutions.  He then provided the coalition with a detailed report outlining the next steps. City leaders are now actively working towards implementation of workshop recommendations in order to move Louisiana’s health forward!

 Did You Know?

  • The built environment includes the physical makeup of where we live, learn, work, and play. The built environment can influence overall community health and individual behaviors such as physical activity and healthy eating. 

MOVING LOuisiana's health forward

See which organizations are positively affecting their communities by checking out our ‘Find A WellSpot’ map located here. If you are interested in joining them by becoming a WellSpot click here or email to learn more!


Tsunami: Sometimes Funky, Sometimes Fancy, Always Fresh and Tobacco-Free!

Tsunami's fresh sushi and diverse dishes has made its Lafayette, Baton Rouge, and New Orleans locations increasingly popular.  Recently, Tsunami worked with Ochsner Eat Fit to offer nutritious and delicious menu items.  All three restaurants were also recently designated as WellSpots.  To become a WellSpot, Tsunami adopted a tobacco-free policy.   This provides a healthier environment for their employees and patrons by not allowing tobacco use anywhere on the restaurants' premises, both indoors and outdoors. 

Restaurant manager, Zac Roy, says that the new tobacco-free policy has inspired some employees to quit smoking for good, and has decreased the number of cigarettes other employees smoke.  He was also pleasantly surprised by how popular the healthy menu items are.  He shared with us that sometimes a whole table will order their sushi rolls with brown rice!  He likes that the Eat Fit menu items give his restaurant the opportunity to share exact nutritional information to those interested.   

By offering healthy menu items and establishing a tobacco-free environment, Tsunami is helping make the healthy choice the easy choice for residents of Louisiana! Way to geaux! 

Did You Know?

  • 35.5% of Louisiana residents are considered obese.  Obesity can lead to chronic diseases that affect work productivity as well as attendance
  • Secondhand smoke exposure contributes to approximately 41,000 deaths among nonsmoking adults and 400 deaths in infants each year. 
  • Today, the average American household spends almost half of their food budget on dining outside the home.

MOVING LOuisiana's health forward

Are you interested in moving your workplace to a WellSpot? Click here to learn how! 

Rainbow Child Care Center Aces Worksite Wellness Programming

Dionne Graham, Executive Director of East St. Tammany Rainbow Child Care Center, believes that as caregiver, you can’t pour from an empty cup. She wanted to send the message that if by taking better care of yourself, you’ll be better a caregiver to the families the Center serves, as well as families at home. But, as most of us can relate, funding and time repeatedly pushed worksite wellness programming to the bottom of her priority list. When Dionne learned about Well-Ahead Louisiana’s WellSpot Designation Program everything changed. With the support of Well-Ahead, Dionne was able to implement healthy changes in her workplace, despite her small staff of 15 women.

Rainbow Childcare Center began its journey to WellSpot designation by creating a Wellness Committee including staff, parents and various stakeholders such as Slidell Memorial Hospital. The Center’s partnership with Memorial Hospital resulted in a Community Outreach Nurse visiting the Center to provide blood pressure and BMI screenings monthly! This nurse also hosts regular, on-site workshops on topics selected by staff. As part of the designation process, the Center also became a breastfeeding friendly workplace, promotes a tobacco-free campus, and offers healthy food options at all staff meetings. Since being designated as a WellSpot, staff members are encouraging each other to make healthy food choices. They are dancing in the classrooms with their students. Dionne has even seen a competitive streak during their weight loss challenge!

The importance of living a healthy lifestyle and modeling that behavior for children has a tremendous impact in preparing their minds and bodies for learning and creating happy employees while reducing stress, increasing productivity, boosting morale and lowering absenteeism. Being a designated Level One WellSpot provided a way for Rainbow Child Care Center to connect to their employees in a meaningful way. It also gave them the tools they needed to create real change in employee lives and the lives of all they touch.

Did You Know?

  •  Worksite wellness programs have been shown to increase employees’ overall satisfaction, increase productivity and decrease absenteeism.
  • 36.2% of Louisiana residents are considered obese. Obesity can lead to chronic diseases that affect work productivity as well as attendance.
  • Secondhand smoke exposure contributes to approximately 41,000 deaths among nonsmoking adults and 400 deaths in infants each year.

Moving Louisiana’s Health Forward

WellSpots are spaces and places in Louisiana that have implemented healthy changes in their environment to help their employees and community live well. When you make the healthy choice the easy choice, the benefits are endless. Employees are happier. They miss less work. They are more productive. And, their healthcare costs go down! It’s easy to become a WellSpot. Start the WellSpot designation process today by taking the online assessment here.

West Feliciana Parish Library Makes Healthy Living Easier For Employees and Patrons

The West Feliciana Parish Library has been a hub for the St. Francisville community for many years, providing resources for patrons such as meeting spaces, children and teen reading spaces, and a newly built playground and walking trail.   

The library wanted to ensure that the spaces available to patrons reflect healthy living choices and provide a health-conscious environment for all patrons. One challenge the library faced involved individuals regularly smoking at the entrance to the library, often causing patrons to have to walk through cigarette smoke upon entering the building. Desiring to protect its patrons from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke[i], the library saw a wonderful opportunity for partnership when they were approached by Well-Ahead Louisiana about adopting wellness benchmarks through the WellSpot Designation Program.

The Well-Ahead team assisted the West Feliciana Parish library in adopting a comprehensive tobacco-free policy, ensuring that employees and patrons would no longer be allowed to smoke near the entrance of the library. The library also began promoting the Louisiana Quitline, which offers free cessation coaching and resources to those who want to quit using tobacco. In addition to the tobacco-related benchmarks, the library started promoting the 5-2-1-0 message and adopted a healthy meeting policy[ii], ensuring healthy options are served at all meetings.

The director of the library, Glenna Fallin, says, “The designation of being a WellSpot will affect many in the community as they begin to see the changes in health consciousness here. Our new policies in regards to breastfeeding, smoking, and food/beverage content at meetings and programs will, hopefully, cross over into the public’s private lives as well.” The West Feliciana Library has become a great role model for local businesses in West Feliciana Parish, and the staff is hoping other businesses will join in to move Louisiana’s health forward!

Did You Know?

  • 29.1% of men and 33.6% of women use counseling and/or medication to quit smoking.1

  • Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death.2

  • There is no risk-free level of secondhand smoke exposure; even brief exposure can be harmful to health.3

Moving Louisiana’s Health Forward

WellSpots are places and spaces in Louisiana that have implemented healthy changes in their environment to help their employees and community members live well. It’s easy to become a WellSpot. Start the WellSpot designation process today by taking the online assessment here.

[i] For more information regarding the health consequences of exposure to secondhand smoke, see the CDC’s Fact Sheet “Secondhand Smoke: What It Means to You” found online here: