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Members of the Grundy County Diabetes Coalition met last week in Gatlinburg with 19 other coalitions from the Appalachian Region to share what we’ve been doing about diabetes. At times I had goose bumps as I listened to their stories! Here’s a little snapshot of some of what we heard.
Mingo County, West Virginia reported their lunchtime walking program has grown from 13 teams to over 40 teams. They are ‘walking’ (in miles) to the West Coast. And a city in California asked to be their sister city. The California folks are ‘walking’ to Mingo County! Over 1000 folks have participated in the walking program so far. Being determined to increase the activity level of all the residents in their county, they have a 5K every month along with other activities. We all chuckled at the picture of an elderly gentleman showing how he can still use a hula hoop.
The coalition from Graham County, North Carolina is turning their community into a ‘walk-able’ community. They have updated and repaired walking trails plus built new ones; they used some of their grant money to get additional grant funds and poured a huge amount of time and energy into planning for their entire community. As a result, a local business donated a large tract of land behind their industry, which is being turned into a community park. The report of their work was pretty impressive.
Several coalitions have implemented community gardens. In McMinn County, Tennessee, the college campus donated the use of some vacant land, which is now growing an orchard plus some raised bed community gardens. The city had some land with a ‘run-off’ problem so they partnered to plant some trench gardens. The ‘run-off’ was stopped and community folks have fresh produce.
In Meigs County, Ohio (yes, they have a Meigs County too!), the juvenile court is sending the youth to work in the community gardens. In return, the youth get half of the produce! The other half is going to the local Food Bank and to the school cafeteria. That coalition has also been working on changing the local school policy so that food is no longer used as a reward. Instead, the kids are getting extra recess time in school!
And the coalition in Wyoming County, West Virginia has started a “Shed Unwanted Pounds” program, which is waging war against obesity. It’s a support group and not a diet program. After all, one person’s problem may be candy and another person’s may be soda. They meet every week and have found that when their participants lose weight, their blood sugars are coming down and they are getting good diabetes control. And someone donated a gym full of exercise equipment totally free to the program! The local grocery store also gave them fifty $25 gift cards to use for the “Shopping Matters” classes. They are determined to keep educating until the day arrives when they don’t see any child running around drinking a Mountain Dew or any other sugary drink. In fact, Logan County, West Virginia uses the term “Sodabriety”!
This is the first year the Grundy County coalition received funding through this grant. We plan to continue holding the Reversing Diabetes Seminar like the one starting Thursday evening in Altamont. We have also held our first “mini” reversing diabetes program, which gives a brief overview of the diabetes problem and suggested solutions. We’ll be holding that 1½ hour meeting all around the county. There’s another 5K coming up in Pelham the first weekend in December plus there will be a special opening event for the North elementary students on their own walking track. Watch for more events sponsored by ACTIV8 GRUNDY.
We don’t have a community garden but this is the time of year to start preparing a garden spot for next spring’s planting. If you are not already a gardener, do you have a little spot of yard you can designate for one? The leaves are starting to fall and they make great compost to help enrich your soil. Plus they help attract the worms that really do the dirty work!
Or if you don’t want to dig up the soil, find a spot where you can set out a few straw or hay bales for the winter. By spring, it will be rotted down just enough to use as a base for your ‘straw bale’ garden. Vegetables such as squash, tomatoes, cucumbers and many others grow really well on those bales. Fresh vegetables are some of the best foods you can eat. And getting out and working a little bit in the yard is good activity!
Together we want to help reduce the incidence of diabetes in our county by increasing our activity and making better food choices. But ultimately, the choice is up to you.