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Story in Brief

The Centers of Disease Control determined that over 40 percent of adults located in Calhoun County are obese. Obesity can eventually lead to negative health consequences such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and death. The CDC awarded project funds to UGA for fighting obesity in Calhoun County. Calhoun County Extension is working with UGA partners to implement community-based strategies over a two-year period in Phase I and an additional five years in Phase II. The coalition is comprised of Family Connection, county and city leaders, educators, local law enforcement, educators, fire/rescue, faith leaders, health professionals and concerned citizens. In Phase I, the Well-Connected Communities Grant, led by the local youth Health Ambassadors, held a Health Fair to highlight the health statistics of the county and to provide vendors that took blood pressure, gave out healthy recipes, opportunity to make a smoothie riding a bike, and much more. In Phase II due to COVID, the Extension Team worked with the local schools to have some virtual programming to teach the students about nutrition, plants and soil. As a part of Phase II, musical playground equipment has been delivered to the municipalities and will accommodate a diverse group of children. Phase II also includes extra playground equipment, supplies for upkeep and sustainability of the walking trail and sidewalk repair to increase community walkability. Thirty-eight Increase Access to Healthy Food Community gardens are going up at various organizations or group sites, which will be maintained by volunteers and students. Two more grants were written through the Diverse Foundation with over $19,270 awarded. This grant provided a greenhouse and outdoor pavilion next to the community gardens, and will be used as an outdoor classroom area for young people and community members. They can gather to germinate seeds, then plant them in the many community gardens or at their homes. Since Phase I began there have been seven garden classes led by the Extension agent, and a Junior Chopped Competition in which the mystery ingredients were harvested from the community garden. Also, four Cancer Prevention Cooking Classes have been taught by Extension Family and Consumer Sciences agents from neighboring counties. The CDC grant has provided four Grab-n-Go coolers to area restaurants and grocery stores for healthy options to be displayed, and small shopping carts to assist parents with those teachable moments when shopping with their children. In Phase II, more coolers will be added to several area churches that host local Food Banks, and four garden beds will be added throughout the county. Calhoun County citizens have committed to building a strong community coalition to address chronic health concerns by meeting monthly over one year.

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