Sitka is known for its beauty and as a popular tourist destination in the summer. Now it can be known as a national winner.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, one of the country's largest charitable organizations focused on health, announced Sitka as one of five recipients of the RWJF Culture of Health Prize. It's a tip of the cap to communities which achieve in health, opportunity and equity.

Sitka will receive $25,000 for its accomplishments. It's the first Alaska community to win and the process was not easy. Winning required excellence in six categories from defining health to fostering a positive environment and healthy living.

An RWJF press release highlighted Sitka’s investment in youth and counseling work, as well as its use of renewable energy. It also mentioned the city’s commitment to being a biking- and walking-friendly area.

“The 2019 RWJF Culture of Health Prize winners recognize that health is about more than just healthcare. It’s about what happens where we live, work, learn, and play. They are fundamentally reshaping their communities so that everyone has a fair opportunity for health and well-being,” said Richard Besser, MD, president and CEO of RWJF, in the release. “These communities show the nation that solutions are within our grasp when we use local data to identify challenges and work together to implement solutions brought forward by residents.”

Other cities that won include: Broward County, Florida; Gonzales, California; Greenville County, South Carolina; and Lake County, Colorado.

A local celebration will happen in Sitka on Dec. 12 and 13.

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