Greater Lawrence/Far Eastside selected as one of 50 communities nationwide to compete in Healthiest Cities Challenge

GREATER LAWRENCE/FAR EASTSIDE – The Greater Lawrence/Far Eastside community – comprised of the City of Lawrence and southern Lawrence Township – has been selected as one of 50 communities across the country to compete in the Healthiest Cities and Counties Challenge for a chance at a $250,000 grand prize.

Kids show off the Healthiest Cities certificate

The Challenge, a partnership between the Aetna Foundation, the American Public Health Association and the National Association of Counties, will award a total of $1.5 million to small and mid-sized cities, counties, and federally-recognized tribes that are able to show measurable change in their communities by implementing health innovations and data-driven solutions during the two-year challenge. Hundreds of entities applied to be a part of the Challenge.

Greater Lawrence/Far Eastside proposed a Healthy Families Healthy Children initiative in partnership with Jump IN for Healthy Kids as its health challenge. The initiative will work to reduce childhood obesity in the greater Lawrence community by creating healthy environments where families can make healthy choices to improve their children’s health.

Healthy Community 50 logo

“The City of Lawrence is excited to partner with Jump IN and other community organizations to take on this healthy challenge,” said Lawrence Mayor Steve Collier, one of two co-chairs of the Healthy Families Healthy Children Steering Committee. “Strengthening the health of our families and children throughout Greater Lawrence and the Far Eastside is critical to making our entire community a great place to live, work, play, and raise a family.”

“Working with a broad group of dedicated partners, we are confident that we can make significant progress to address some of the root causes of health disparities in our community,” said Lawrence Township Trustee Steve Talley, the other co-chair of the Steering Committee. “Our goal is to make the healthy choice the easy choice throughout Greater Lawrence and the Far Eastside.” 

The initiative will help schools, child care providers, and youth organizations increase healthy eating and physical activity among the children they serve. Employers will get tools to create healthy worksites and promote healthy behaviors among employees and their families.

The effort will also employ innovative strategies to tackle food access issues in food deserts throughout the community and will work to create safe places for kids and families to play. Health care providers will team up with community organizations to provide families access to the resources they need to promote their children’s health.  Finally, a public education campaign will encourage the entire community to eat more fruits and vegetables, be more active, spend less time in front of a computer or TV, and cut back on sugar-sweetened beverages.

“This Challenge presents a great opportunity to implement innovative, evidence-based practices that will change the culture of health in Greater Lawrence/Far Eastside in significant and positive ways,” said Ron Gifford, CEO of Jump IN for Healthy Kids. “The strategies that demonstrate successful outcomes here can be applied immediately in other neighborhoods throughout the Indianapolis region.”

The initiative is led by a local Steering Committee that currently includes the City of Lawrence, the Lawrence Township Trustee, Metropolitan School District of Lawrence Township, Community Alliance for the Far Eastside (CAFE), La Plaza, Community Health Network, Benjamin Harrison YMCA, Finish Line Boys and Girls Club, Roche Diagnostics, Glick Family Foundation, Fervent Prayer Church, Mount Carmel Baptist Church, and the Greater Lawrence Chamber of Commerce.  Jump IN for Healthy Kids and Purdue University Cooperative Extension will staff the initiative as project co-managers, with technical support from the Indiana State Department of Health and Marion County Public Health Department.

As a member of the HealthyCommunity50 participating in the Challenge, Greater Lawrence/Far Eastside will receive an initial $10,000 seed grant, along with additional resources and technical assistance throughout the course of the two-year Challenge. At the conclusion of the Challenge, the programs most able to show measurable change will be eligible for prize awards from $25,000 – $250,000. Participants will be judged on their own progress and will not be competing against each other.

For more information on the Healthiest Cities Challenge, visit

A Tale of Two Communities: The Demographics of Greater Lawrence/Far Eastside

The Greater Lawrence/Far Eastside Healthy Families Healthy Children initiative serves zip codes 46226 and 46235 to the south, and 46216 (predominantly Fort Harrison State Park) and 46236 to the north. Significant socio-economic and health disparities exist between the southern and northern portions of the community. Find out more about the community and this initiative in the detailed project description

Greater Lawrence zip code map