Community leaders across two counties introduced a new campaign Thursday to aid area residents to become healthier.
The Roanoke Valley Community Health Initiative is focused on helping people, particularly children, be more active and more aware of healthful eating. The consortium of 36 entities includes schools, health organizations, churches and more.
“We all have a stake in the health of our community,” said Shannon McAllister of Littleton’s The John 3:16 Center, an organization providing a variety of human services for children and their families. In September 2012, the Centers for Disease Control released North Carolina’s Response to Obesity study, which declared 64.9 percent of adults (18 and older) were overweight and 27.8 percent more were considered obese. In children, 16.2 percent were overweight and 15.5 percent were obese, the study said.
In response to concerns over this obesity “epidemic,” the Get Fit, Stay Fit Roanoke Valley campaign was created as a five-year effort dedicated to promoting health in Halifax and Northampton counties. The campaign is being supported with a grant of $622,509 from The Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust.
According to Magda Baligh, executive director of the Halifax-Warren Smart Start Partnership for Children, initiative members also launched a new website on Thursday — GetFitStayFitRV.com — with information about the program, upcoming events, such as Bike to School and monthly play dates at area parks, and Places To Play, a comprehensive map of parks, trails, senior center and more. “It is the place to go to see what’s coming up and going on,” Baligh said. “Add it to your (web browser’s) favorites to see what’s going on in your community.”
Chris Wicker, a former Roanoke Rapids Parks & Recreation director, also is involved in the collaborative. He said Halifax County is ranked 99th out of 100 counties for high childhood obesity figures. “We’re sitting last in terms of quality of life,” he said, adding people should take this new campaign and really run with it. “We could be recognized as a model region.”
Wicker said he believes all these people belonging to these organizations can really make a difference.
“A lot of folks are getting involved because we have such a need,” he said. “It’s been a very good teamwork process.”
The funds from the Trust will help these community organizations build on what is already happening.
“It will add value to what we’re already doing,” Wicker said. “We’ve got a long way to go, but we’ve got a really good start.”