(JACKSON COUNTY) - Healthy Jackson County met Friday, Feb. 10, at Schneck Medical Center to discuss their goal of promoting healthy behavior throughout Jackson County.
While the group started in August 2011, they are still organizing and discussing how to promote themselves, raise money, and make a difference.
"It all started when the county rankings (for obesity) were released in April (2011)," said Molly Marshall, co-chair. "Some people in the community wanted to change that."
According to the Indiana County Health Ranking website, 30 percent of Jackson County's population is obese. This number is what brought people from the community together to form a new group.
Representatives from different areas such as Seymour Community Schools, Boys and Girls Club, Girls Inc., Schneck Medical Center, and more are trying to make a grassroots effort to benefit children associated with their organizations.
The group has four pillars based off of Let's Move, a national health awareness program. The four pillars are reducing risk of early childhood obesity, providing healthy food in schools, making healthy food affordable and accessible, and increase physical activity.
The group has started a pedometer challenge in Brownstown and Seymour elementary schools where students can track their fitness activity. As an incentive, the students can qualify for the governor's fitness award, which is signed by Governor Mitch Daniels and Colts quarterback Peyton Manning.
Students are in their fourth week of the eight-week program. A nutrition presentation by the Purdue Extension will be given at the end of the program to educate them with nutrition.
An after school food program is another initiative group members discussed. Organizations like Boys and Girls Club of Seymour and Girls Inc. began serving healthy snacks when children would come to their facility after school.
Steve Stanfield said it had been hard to do in the past since there wasn't funding for such a program in their budget and they were low on staff to work on that type of project.
"Now we have an AmeriCorp volunteer that takes care of the planning and serving," he said. "She serves about 80 healthy snacks Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday."
He added that healthy snacks are more expensive and hard to store.
"We tried serving milk, but storage is hard and we had to buy eight cases at a time," he said. "It's hard to go through that much milk."
Group members then participated in brainstorming ways to promote themselves and raise money to fund projects.
The group would like a booth at Kid's Fest in April, take part in the Lawn, Garden, and Patio show by Seymour Main Street, and possibly sponsor a 5k run. At each event the group wants to hand out brochures to raise awareness and get more people involved.
Another task they would like to accomplish is establishing a community garden for people to eat healthier and cheaper.
"A community garden would be great because people would help their kids eat healthier and learn about gardening," Marshall said. "Maybe they would start a garden of their own."
The group's next meeting is at 2 p.m. Friday, Mar. 30 at the Schneck Foundation Office in Scheck Medical Center.
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