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Volunteers address Delta's obesity problem
MISSISSIPPI STATE – Volunteers in four Delta counties are tackling the area’s obesity problem in unique ways.
The Delta has the highest obesity rate in the state, and volunteers in Carroll, Holmes, Leflore and Sunflower Counties are participating in the Get Healthy, Trim Down Delta project to help solve the problem.
The program is directed by the Mississippi State University Extension Service and funded by the Delta Health Alliance, through financial support from the Office of Rural Health Policy, a branch of the Health Resources and Services Administration.
Action groups in each of the four counties created tailor-made plans to promote healthy living.
“Our goal for this project was to bring together a wide range of local volunteers to find ways to help Mississippians combat obesity in their day-to-day lives,” Rural Health Program Leader and MSU Extension food science, nutrition and health promotion assistant professor Bonnie Carew said. “We asked folks to think of ways to make achieving a healthy weight more attainable.”
The groups were recently convened for a series of progress meetings.
The Carroll County groups planned to start a walking program, build exercise trails and bring home economics back into the school system. The community-walking program is already in full swing, as volunteers open up the old Vaiden High School gym to the public twice a day. They have also set a date to complete the construction of their walking trails in Vaiden and Carrollton. The home economics group has started researching background information and promoting their cause in the community.
The Leflore County group decided to increase health awareness. Members have written health tips to be published in the newspaper. The group is also developing a contact list of experts who would be willing to speak on health topics at local meetings.
Holmes County created groups to build common gardens, promote family dinners and increase physical activity opportunities. The community garden group has found land for four gardens in the county and is working with the Boys and Girls Club to achieve their goal. The family dinner group is organizing a community-wide meal. The physical activity group is currently promoting use of exercise equipment available in their community.
Sunflower County’s groups are aimed at increasing healthy cooking, developing walking programs and promoting children’s sports programs. The walking program group has held several well-attended walks. A walk in Drew brought a crowd of 125, while one in Indianola had 65 attendees. The healthy cooking group is planning an event to teach participants how to read food labels, and the children’s sports group is beginning a Quick Start tennis program in March.
“I am so proud of what these groups have accomplished in such a short time,” said Community Health Coordinator and MSU Extension agent Ann Sansing. “They have pushed through challenges in hopes of bettering their communities. I am excited to see what else they will achieve.”
For more information about the Get Healthy, Trim Down Delta program or the community action groups please contact Bobbie Jo Beach at (662) 325-3360 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The Get Healthy, Trim Down Delta Facebook page and the project website at www.msucares.com/trimdowndelta/.
Writer: Bobbie Jo Beach, (662) 325-3360