Wrapping up the second year of a three year grant by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Logan County’s Community Health Coalition has already made a big impact in the well-being of those who live here.
Logan County was one of six counties to share $1.8 million dollars awarded to the University of Kentucky by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as a collaborative environmental approach to reduce obesity disparities in Kentucky. The grant is administered by the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment and the College of Public Health.
The main focus of the grant is lowering obesity rates in counties with obesity rates higher then 40 percent of the total population. Through the grant coalitions were formed in the six counties with Logan being one. Agents with the UK Cooperative Extension Service are working with community and state partners, including health department personnel, UK extension specialists, UK public health specialists, and community health coalition members, to not only lower obesity rates, but also improve residents’ overall health.
Rachel Hance serves as Logan County’s Extension Agent for Family and Consumer Sciences. She is facilitating the grant in our community and has been very busy the first two years implementing changes that address health and fitness in Logan County.
The grant has three components: the creation of a Coalition, Food and Healthy Eating, and Nutrition and Physical Activity. Logan County’s coalition has 25 members who meet periodically to discuss what impact the grant will have and where. As part of the Food and Healthy Eating component, Hance has been visiting local grocery stores and offering healthy recipes, as well as sampling.
“I have gone to Wal-Mart, Piggly Wiggly and IGA,” said Hance. “It has been a rewarding experience and people seem to really become involved in learning to eat better.”
One of the most anticipated benefits to Logan Countians will be a web app that will soon be launched to help keep up with activity and calories. This app will also supply a calendar of local events, places to go for the best physical activity, a diary, and nutritional information, along with recipes for better eating.
“This app is similar to the My Fitness Pal,” said Hance adding, “Accept it’s localized. You will not only receive the benefits of an app that can keep up with your everyday activity and nutritional intake, but also view local events and direction to fitness areas. Plus the app is free!”
As part of the grant, Logan County has already received plenty of benefits. In the fall of 2015 the Auburn, Lewisburg and Russellville parks got new picnic tables and benches. In 2016 the Adairville, Auburn and Lewisburg parks are getting an upgrade on restroom facilities.
“When I visited each park, I was astonished at how some of them needed restroom upgrades badly,” said Hance who pushed the idea through. “I reported that parents would not stay at the parks if there were no decent restrooms for their children to go.”
Some of the up and coming projects include play equipment at the Auburn park and a Fit-Trail System at the Russellville park. Fitness trails combine scientifically designed exercises with walking or jogging to provide a well-balanced physical fitness routine for the entire body. Individual exercise stations with apparatus are spaced along a walking trail or jogging path. The participant proceeds from one exercise station to the next and performs the exercises illustrated at each station.
In 2017, the third year of the grant, an evaluation of the projects and an educational program for each will be created by Hance.
“This has been both a busy and rewarding experience,” said Hance. “Logan County is among six who are pioneering the way to healthier lifestyles thanks to the foresight of both the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the University of Kentucky. It is my hopes that funding can continue in the future to allow for changes in the way we take care of ourselves and generations to come.”
To contact Chris Cooper, email [email protected] or call 270-726-8394.