ROCK! Richmond Program Shows Local Governments how to Promote Physical Fitness

Conference to encourage local governments to promote physical fitness

On October 28–30, 1998, the Richmond, Va., Department of Public Health (DPH) held a conference on local initiatives to promote fitness entitled, "FRONTRUNNERS: Local Governments Taking the Lead in Fitness Promotion."

The conference highlighted the ROCK! Richmond (R!R) program, a community-based health-promotion program launched in 1997 that included:

  • fitness instruction at more than 50 community centers around the city.
  • a media campaign advocating physical activity and healthy eating habits.
  • encouragement of city employees to engage in healthy lifestyles with their families, friends and co-workers.

Physical inactivity and obesity are now ranked second only to smoking as preventable causes of death and disability, and there is increasing recognition of the high economic and social costs associated with these conditions.

Key Results

  • Conference attendees included some 150 government officials, health care providers and fitness industry representatives from 43 organizations in six states and the District of Columbia.
  • The conference featured 14 presentations on such topics as:
    • the new role of public health
    • reversing the downward trend in youth fitness
    • intra-agency collaboration to promote fitness
    • program evaluation
    • marketing
  • Attendees were invited to:
    • site visits to R!R programs in the city and grant-writing workshops.
    • apply for seed grants to start local programs.
  • Two $2,500 grants, funded by Roche Pharmaceuticals and the Medical College of Virginia, were awarded at the conference to the Monticello Area Community Action Agency in Charlottesville, Va., and the Community Coalition of Horry County, S.C.


The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) provided $50,000 in funding from October 1998 to March 1999 to support the conference.

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