Healthy Communities Network to focus on six areas for improvements

Members of the Barnwell County Healthy Communities Network meet Jan. 16 to discuss their priorities for implementing healthy initiatives.

Members of the Barnwell County Healthy Communities Network meet Jan. 16 to discuss their priorities for implementing healthy initiatives.

First Byline: 
Jonathan Vickery - Staff Writer

The Barnwell County Healthy Communities Network (BCHCN) is prioritizing how they can make Barnwell County healthier.
"We've set up committees to look at (six) different priority areas," said board member Pam Rush following a Jan. 16 meeting.
Priority areas are: farmers' market/community gardens, walk/bike trails (complete streets), schools/healthy lunch, daycare, faith-based, and healthcare providers.
The group wants to make fresh fruits and vegetables more accessible by looking into starting a farmers' market at Fuller Park. They are also working with the city of Barnwell, which just completed a bike and walking trail study, to assess the current trails and see what improvements can be done, such as signs and maps.
Two other areas - schools/healthy lunch and daycare - correlate with the first two, but focus on getting children healthy before adulthood through healthier meals and snacks and more exercise. "It's all about getting them more active," said Rush.
While initiatives to lead a healthier lifestyle are important, the group also established two areas which they hope will help spread their message through faith-based organizations and healthcare providers.
They will explore partnerships, such as walking clubs and health ministries, with churches and other faith-based organizations "so they can provide some of this much-needed information to their congregations," said Rush.
The final area will also help get a healthier message out by working with local healthcare providers. They want to make it easy for patients to "know where to go and who to call" for various issues, like quitting smoking or losing weight, said Rush.
Rush said all six areas go hand-in-hand with their mission to "develop and maintain a unified movement to create a healthier community."
To make these ideas a reality, the group is seeking a grant through the Healthy S.C. Initiative, which gave the BCHCN their original grant to study the need in Barnwell County. If awarded, the grant would allow the group to hire someone to coordinate and implement some of their ideas, she said.
They are also applying to become an Eat Smart, Move More chapter, which focuses on reducing obesity and shares a lot of the visions of the BCHCN. Being a chapter would give them a logo, website and "make us more visible," said Rush.
Rush encourages others to join the BCHCN and share their ideas. Their next meeting will be Thursday, Feb. 21, at 9 a.m. in Williston, though the exact location is to be determined.