Feature Story

CHIP-ping Away at Community Health Concerns

February 9, 2015 – by Karson Stevenson ’16

OWU faculty member Christopher L. Fink is serving as co-chair of The Partnership for a Healthy Delaware County, a group working to improve the health of the entire community. Fink recently helped to announce the partnership’s new Community Health Improvem

OWU faculty member Christopher L. Fink is serving as co-chair of The Partnership for a Healthy Delaware County, a group working to improve the health of the entire community. Fink recently helped to announce the partnership’s new Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP). (Photo courtesy of the Delaware General Health District)

Ohio Wesleyan Faculty Members Helping to Lead Countywide Wellness Initiative

Ohio Wesleyan University faculty member Christopher L. Fink is doing his part to CHIP away at issues negatively impacting the health of Delaware County residents.

Fink, Ph.D., not only serves as chair of OWU’s Department of Health and Human Kinetics, but he also is co-chair of The Partnership for a Healthy Delaware County, a group of more than 40 local leaders and residents working together to improve the health of the entire community. Susan Hanson, executive director of HelpLine of Delaware and Morrow Counties Inc., is co-chairing the partnership with Fink.

The partnership recently announced its new Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP), which includes strategies to positively impact Delaware’s well-being in five areas: access to healthcare and medication, alcohol and drug abuse, food insecurity, mental health and obesity/overweight.

OWU’s Marsha A. Tilden ’81, certified nurse practitioner and director of Student Health Services, also serves on the partnership, along with the county health commissioner, sheriff, directors of local social service agencies, physicians, fire and rescue professionals, residents, and many others. The partnership was commissioned to create the CHIP by the Delaware General Health District.

Fink was tapped to help lead the partnership through his involvement with another public health initiative – Action Communities for Health, Innovation and EnVironmental change (ACHIEVE). Fink says ACHIEVE works to “improve things in our environment – like parks, open spaces, access to healthy food and physical activity, etc. – and systems – policies and laws – that encourage healthy choices by making them easier choices.”

Despite an already busy schedule, Fink found the new Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) project “compelling because it opens a lot of doors for real-world collaboration with our partners who work every day to improve the health of our community. These collaborations have historically turned into wonderful opportunities for our students.”

One such opportunity, he says, is the ongoing Cooking Matters program, which has OWU students helping community members find efficient ways to improve their dietary habits, including how they prepare their food. Fink says his off-campus collaborations also keep him “current,” in the sense that they allow him to see where OWU students will be working after they graduate, if they choose fields such as health promotion, public health, or worksite wellness.

Over the next five years, Fink and the rest of the partnership hope to see the CHIP goals impact the activities of various agencies and workgroups collaborating to improve the health of the county. Even though Delaware County annually ranks as one of the healthiest in the state, it still has health-related issues that need to be addressed, he says.

Fink, who joined Ohio Wesleyan in 2007, focuses his own research and scholarly interests in the areas of physical activity and dietary behavior change; purpose and meaning in physical activity and diet; application of theoretical constructs and principles to the health behavior change process; food education and food studies; cooking as a health behavior; and the relationship between the Mediterranean culture and lifestyle (specifically Italian) and nutritional / movement behavior choices.

Learn more about the Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) at www.gohealthydelaware.org and more about OWU’s Department of Health and Human Kinetics at https://www.owu.edu/academics/departments-programs/department-of-health-and-human-kinetics/.