Barnwell Co. HYPE team promotes healthy living

  • From left: Trimease Carter from Eat Smart Move More SC, Beth Franco from Eat Smart Move More SC, along with HYPE members Kyra Shuler, Laura Fox, Jordan Jackson, KamRon Myrick and Hilary Hindman.

A team of Barnwell County teens are trying to build up “hype” for healthy living.

Barnwell County is among several counties to have a HYPE (Healthy Young People Empowerment) Project team. The local team consists of students from Barnwell and Williston-Elko high schools.

“The HYPE Project is a five-phased approach to youth empowerment – Think, Learn, Act, Share, and Evaluate. The HYPE Project motivates and engages youth in policy, systems, and environmental obesity change efforts throughout South Carolina. It is designed to build the skills of youth so that they can become a greater voice in their communities,” according to a press release from the Axis 1 Center, which has led the local team.

HYPE was created through a partnership between Eat Smart, Move More South Carolina, the University of South Carolina Arnold School of Public Health and S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control with funding from the federal Community Transformation Grant to motivate and engage youth (ages 12-17) in police, systems and environmental change efforts.

“These students work diligently to make sure there is access to healthy options for the community in Barnwell County,” stated the release.

A major focus of HYPE is healthy eating and active living, but “youth are encouraged to use the skills they learn to be lifelong champions of positive change,” stated the release.

For their 2016-2017 project, the Barnwell County HYPE Team conducted a needs assessment of the community to determine what foods were being served at local sporting events. Data collected showed there were no healthy food options available at the Lemon Park Sports Complex in Barnwell, which led to an appointment with Pamela Davis, the City of Barnwell Parks and Recreation Director, to discuss adding healthy snacks in the concession stand.

“After presenting her with a list of healthy options, Pamela agreed to make healthy food options available during spring baseball camp. Due to the positive reception of the healthy food options during the baseball camp, Pamela agreed to add the healthy options to the menu at the Lemon Park concession stand. Parents and youth enjoyed having the healthy food options during sports events,” stated the release.

On July 15, four of the Barnwell County HYPE Team members joined approximately 160 teenagers and adults from across South Carolina at the 5th Annual Youth Summit at S.C. State University to learn about youth-led policy changes and how to advocate effectively. Hosted by the Healthy Young People Empowerment (HYPE) Project and Eat Smart Move More South Carolina, the Summit featured Chris Suggs, a nationally-known social justice activist and founder of Kinston Teens in Kinston, N.C.

HYPE Project teams from Orangeburg, Anderson, Barnwell, Berkeley, Hampton, Florence, Kershaw, Laurens, and York counties presented videos on their successes in establishing policy and environmental changes in their communities. Youth worked with local leaders to implement the following changes: healthy food choices at ball park concessions stand, park cleanup, safety improvements and signage, a faith-based community garden to feed the community members, installing crosswalk signs and caution lights near schools, and installing way-finding signs on trails.

The Barnwell County HYPE Team won first place for their video project. Hilary Hindman, HYPE adult coordinator, thanks HYPE team members Kyra Shuler, Camron Holloway, Laura Fox, Jordan Jackson and KamRon Myrick who worked tirelessly on many projects, attended every meeting, and strives to make Barnwell County better. “Thank you all for your hard work and dedication,” said Hindman.

On August 5, the Barnwell County HYPE Team will host a Family, Food, and Fitness Festival at Fuller Park from 9 a.m. to noon. There will be a cook off between Jack Johnson (Food Coordinator for Barnwell School Districts #45 & #19) and Kimberly Bush (Fuller Park Farmers’ Market Manager), taste testing of healthy snacks, bounce houses, games and more.

“The Axis I Center of Barnwell and the Barnwell HYPE team encourage the community to come out and support this event and the HYPE team,” said Hindman.