New River Valley task force launches Community Wellness Commitment

The New River Valley Public Health Task Force has unveiled a Community Wellness Commitment to encourage community members to care for the health and well-being of others.

In partnership with a range of local health, public safety, education, and government agencies, Virginia Tech collaborated to develop the Wellness Commitment as the fall term approaches for universities and K-12 school systems. The commitment outlines 10 tenets, based on well-known public health guidelines such as wearing masks and staying six feet apart, that community members can personally adopt.

Virginia Tech President Tim Sands said that members of the university community share a common responsibility to lower the health and safety risks for the broader region.

“It is our obligation to protect the health and well-being of others, and this is an opportunity for Hokies to demonstrate their commitment to Ut Prosim (That I May Serve) every day,” Sands said. “Working together, we can flatten the pandemic’s curve in our local communities and support the success of an in-person fall semester.”

“If our community is to successfully manage this pandemic, we must shift our focus from where we have been to what each of us does day in and day out,” said Noelle Bissell, director of the New River Health District and co-chair of the task force. “If each of us commits to following basic hygiene practices outlined in the Community Wellness Commitment, we can emerge from this pandemic united and well.”

“All of us — our residents, our college students, those who call the New River Valley home and those who visit our region are in this together,” said Blacksburg Police Chief Anthony Wilson. “This public awareness campaign will help us each and every day of the simple things we can do to protect our community and to protect ourselves.”

The Community Wellness Commitment is available for download and customization at vt.edu/ready. All Virginia Tech offices across the commonwealth are encouraged to post the commitment, and all members of the VT community – faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends – are welcome to share their commitment on their social media channels. And the university will promote the Wellness Commitment through its “Be Committed. Be Well” campaign.

The downloadable commitment is customizable for external businesses, community organizations and more. Logos and descriptive text can be added to the commitment while leaving the 10 tenets intact.

The New River Public Health Task Force is composed of officials from local health, public safety, education and government agencies who work collaboratively to provide residents with accurate, up-to-date and effective guidance about COVID-19 and other infectious diseases. Task force members include the New River Health District (Virginia Department of Health), area hospitals, the towns of Blacksburg and Christiansburg, Montgomery County, local law enforcement and first responder agencies, New River Valley Community Services, Virginia Tech, New River Community College, Radford University and the Lewis Gale and Carilion health care systems.

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