Carter County ‘growing’ to be Healthier Tennessee Community

Published 6:04 pm Friday, March 17, 2017

It’s an exciting time to promote health within the region.
Josh McKinney, director of United Way of Elizabethton/Carter County, announced Friday that the Governor’s Foundation for Health and Wellness named Carter County as a candidate for official designation as a Healthier Tennessee Community.
“This movement has the potential to make an incredible impact on our community,” said McKinney, who chairs Grow Carter County — the county’s Healthier Tennessee initiative. “We’ve gathered a coalition of individuals and organizations who want to see Carter County get healthier, and we are growing larger every day.”
The project was unveiled during February’s Carter County Health Council meeting at Medical Care, where representatives were able to learn more about the need to become a healthier community.
“It’s a grassroots effort to get health initiatives up and going in communities themselves,” Stacey Baugues, regional director for the foundation, told the Elizabethton Star following the meeting. “Through the designation process, a community goes through an initial application part, and that’s the stage Carter County just completed. They have been approved to start working toward being designated as a healthier Tennessee community. Within that program, we’re asking communities to initiate three community-wide sustainable activities and programs that focus on getting more people active.”
Grow Carter County met last week to begin looking at different ways to promote physical activity, healthy eating and tobacco abstinence at the local level. Healthier Tennessee Communities, according to McKinney, takes a community-wide approach to improving Tennesseans’ health by engaging the local leaders of cities, towns, counties and neighborhoods.
In Tennessee, one in five adults smoke, and one in five high school students use tobacco. Approximately 34 percent of the population is classified as obese and an additional 34 percent are overweight. Type-2 diabetes and high blood pressure are at epidemic levels.
“Research has shown that we are much more likely to change our health-related behavior and establish healthy habits when we are encouraged and supported by others — when we are in a community,” Governor’s Foundation CEO Richard Johnson said in a statement provided to the Elizabethton Star. “That’s why making health and wellness an integral part of life where you live — and with the people who surround you — make such a positive.”
Grow Carter County is comprised of various city and county individuals and the chairman added he appreciated the current round of support from individuals.
“The support is vital,” McKinney said. “We’re looking at working together with faith-based organizations and churches in our community. Our churches can utilize resources, free of charge, to provide information on how their congregation can be more healthy. Being able to have these types of partnerships could possibly set up grant opportunities to help promote programs through the Foundation.”
Individuals or organizations looking to lend a hand and be part of Grow Carter County can either contact McKinney at (423) 547-6975 or visit the Grow Carter County Facebook page online.

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