A priority for Will Wynn during his two-term administration as Mayor of Austin was to raise awareness of the cost of avoidable health care spending, to promote the prevention of chronic diseases and better health in Austin, and to promote the city of Austin as a healthy place to live, work and play.
Wynn practices what he preaches, demonstrating that it is easy and inexpensive to stay fit. It is thought that Wynn became the first mayor in history to run his/her city’s marathon while in office. While running the 2007 Austin Marathon, he raised over $20,000 for the non-profit MarathonKids (see below). Wynn has been instrumental in the success of a number of health/fitness initiatives, including:
Steps to a Healthier Austin
The city of Austin was one of eight original grantees from the Center for Disease Control’s Steps to a Healthier U.S. program. The initiative in Austin emphasizes reducing the burden of diabetes, overweight, obesity and asthma and addressing risk factors such as physical inactivity, poor nutrition and tobacco use, particularly in at-risk populations.
Mayor’s Fitness Council
Established by Mayor Will Wynn in 2004, the Mayor’s Fitness Council coordinates the involvement of citizen advocates, businesses, schools, the faith community and health leaders to support the implementation of evidence-based strategies and programs that truly affect positive change and healthy lifestyles. The Council developed the Austin Fitness Index as a monitoring tool.
City of Austin PE Department
In 2005 Mayor Wynn promoted the idea of having the city as a major employer show leadership in health and fitness for the rest of the community. This initiative quickly evolved into an organized health and fitness program spearheaded by employees. The City of Austin PE Department is volunteer-driven and includes employees from all 25 city departments.
To date, more than 7,500 employees have participated in the program that includes team walking, running and swimming classes, flex time during the work week for exercise, ‘farm-to-work’ organic food distribution, discounts on running shoes, as well as prevention-focused changes to the health insurance program. As a result, the city’s healthcare costs and sick time have decreased, while health screenings and productivity have increased.
Will Wynn has been a long-time supporter, promoter, board member – and parent – of MarathonKids, as he says “the single most effective childhood fitness and nutrition program in the country.” In Austin alone this year more than 72,000 K-5th Graders are participating in the structured 26-week program. Many schools have 100% participation.
In January 2005, Wynn’s presentation at the U.S. Conference of Mayors annual meeting, ultimately led to the program being adopted in Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas and Los Angeles – totaling another 150,000 elementary school children.
Health Alliance for Austin Musicians (HAAM)
Formed in 2005 as a non-profit collaboration between the Seton Family of Hospitals, St. David’s Community Health Foundation and the SIMS Foundation, HAAM provides medical, dental and mental health care to the city’s hard-working, self-employed, low-income, uninsured, professional musicians. Austin’s status as a Creative City is disproportionately linked to its musicians. To date, more than 2,700 member-musicians, most 35 and younger, have been served by HAAM.
Healthy Communities: Mr. Wynn’s Insights
If your organization would like to hear Mr. Wynn speak on topics such as childhood fitness, and community health and wellness, please submit a Speaking Inquiry.