Making A Difference in Our County
University of Georgia Cooperative Extension is working hard for its constituents. The following are examples of Extension’s impact in the county over the past year.
Creating Connectedness and Continued Learning during Covid-19 Crisis
On March 13, 2020 all Coweta County Schools were closed due to the Covid-19 Pandemic. With the closure came the discontinuation of face-to-face programming with all 4-H activities in Coweta County. The Children’s Mental Health Campaign states that support systems and connectedness are critical during times of crisis and uncertainty (Children’s Mental Health Campaign, 2018). Without school and 4-H activities, our 4-H’ers needed opportunities to be together virtually activities to maintain connectedness and their support systems. The National 4-H Council completed a survey through the Harris Poll in May 2020 that proves that the engagement of our youth during this time is critical. The survey states 7 out of 10 teens have experienced struggles with mental health during this crisis and 61% of teens said that Covid-19 has increased their feeling of loneliness.
Changes had to be made quickly to provide programming to our youth in a virtual format that would allow them time to learn, be creative and meet the social, emotional, and mental needs of our community. Within days of the school closure the 4-H staff made plans for engaging programming for each weekday. Zooms were held weekly March-June for high schoolers and middle school 4-H’ers. Contests were posted two days a week with prizes given for Cloverbud, Cloverleaf, Junior, and Senior 4-H’ers that encouraged healthy habits, creativity, and physical activity. Cloverbuds had videos posted weekly with age appropriate stories, crafts, and/or activities to be completed. Junior and Senior 4-H’ers were asked their opinions on what they would like to do each week and their input was used in the planning of the weekly activities. In June, junior 4-H’ers were involved in a career study that provided interviews with workers from various careers which included a speech pathologist, career coach, firefighter/EMT, cybersecurity analyst, and pilot. Senior 4-H’ers journeyed about the world to explore the culture of islands including Japan, Iceland, Canary Islands, New Zealand, and Puerto Rico. Cloverbuds learned about China, India, Russia and Italy through nonfiction text and craft activities. Cloverleaf 4-H’ers participated in a virtual road trip to each of the 4-H Centers around the state and learned environmental science topics. Cloverleaf and Cloverbuds also had the opportunity to receive kits for craft activities and learning extensions. We also offered self-paced contests that promoted physical, mental, and social well-being through age-appropriate BINGO boards and a family activity challenge.
Diabetes Prevention in the Height of a Pandemic
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1 in 3 American adults (88 million) has prediabetes, and more than 8 in 10 adults with prediabetes do not know they have it. Prediabetes increases the risk of heart disease, stroke and developing type 2 diabetes (T2DM), a costly and life-altering disease. To make matters worse, diabetes puts people at greater risk for severe complications from Coronavirus (COVID-19) (American Diabetes Association).
It is estimated that together, prediabetes and diabetes cost Georgia $9.9 billion, annually (American Diabetes Association), and those costs are likely higher in the wake of COVID-19. With the most recent data from 2017, the United States Diabetes Surveillance System (USDSS) specified that 14% (14,135 people) of the population in Coweta County have been diagnosed with diabetes. Prediabetes can be reversed and so can further cases of diabetes through lifestyle change interventions. The evidence-based, CDC-recognized National Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) has been shown to decrease the risk of developing T2DM among those with prediabetes by more than 50% through weight loss, improved nutrition and increasing physical activity.
UGA Extension Coweta County’s Family and Consumer Sciences (FACS) program began delivering the 12-month Diabetes Prevention Program to seven participants in January 2020. The program was planned for in-person classes, once per week for 16 weeks and then bi-monthly or monthly for the remainder of the year-long program. In March 2020, COVID-19 put the country on hold and made it challenging to help participants maintain and even improve their health to resist diabetes and COVID-19.
On March 16, 2020, the program pivoted to offering sessions in a conference call only format. These calls facilitated discussion around healthy eating, physical activity, problem-solving and stress management. Before each session, participants would share food logs for feedback from the lifestyle coach and FACS agent, Candace Tucker. Additionally, at each session, participants reported their weight and weekly physical activity minutes.
West Georgia Equine Symposium
Carroll and Coweta counties’ Extension agriculture and natural resources agents collaborated to offer advanced equine programming four times since 2019. 159 total participants attended these four programs that included ten advanced educational equine topics along with hands-on experiences with pasture walks and on-site barn safety evaluations. 80% of participants responded that within twelve months, they would adopt/be extremely likely to adopt the information or techniques presented in the programs, thus impacting a total of 705 acres of pastures and farmland.