County works to become Healthier TN Community

Published 2:30 pm Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Claiborne County is working to attain its official designation as a Healthier Tennessee Community. The Governor’s Foundation for Health and Wellness announced late last week that the county is now included on the program’s candidate list.

Healthier Tennessee Communities are those who encourage and enable more physical activity, healthier eating and abstinence from tobacco products at the local level. A community-wide program, it engages local leaders in the fight for better health across the state.

“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 community. That’s why making health and wellness an integral part of life where you live –and with the people who surround you – makes such a positive difference,” said Richard Johnson, CEO of the Governor’s Foundation for Health and Wellness.

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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. An additional 34 percent are overweight, with type II diabetes and high blood pressure at near epidemic levels.

Kayla Smith, regional director of the Governor’s Foundation, said recently that the health of our local communities affects the populace in many ways.

“It affects us from feeling well enough to put in a productive day’s work to how able our kids are to learn. It affects us from the cost of medical care to how well and how long we live.

“Change Claiborne’s achievement of the initial $5,000 Healthier Tennessee Communities grant clearly shows that this citizen-led effort is making a positive difference in the Claiborne County area,” said Smith.

To be designated, the county must identify wellness champions who will lead the initiative, engaging people in workplaces, in schools and in faith organizations. They must then work to initiate and sustain communitywide events and activities that support its goals. The community will be expected to track and measure program outputs and accomplishments.

The champions will have one year to complete their work.

‘Change Claiborne’ was just handed a check for $5,000 to help implement the goals that will ultimately lead to reducing poor eating habits, upping physical activity and eradicating tobacco use.

The Governor’s Foundation for Health and Wellness is a nonprofit corporation dedicated to enabling and encouraging Tennesseans to live healthier lives. The Nashville-based organization brings together a statewide coalition of employers, health insurers, hospital systems, local governments, school systems, healthcare-focused foundations and community organizations for positive, measurable change.

The Healthier Tennessee Communities initiative was launched in March 2015 with nine pilot communities. Today, 95 communities are working with the program. Twenty-four of those communities have received the designation.