NEWBERRY — The Eat Smart, Move More coalition group of Newberry County are making strides in Newberry schools and child care areas.
At Thursday’s monthly meeting, the group discussed the six categories for action.
“The action items are related to the group,” said Scott Sawyer, co-chair, “We want people to be involved in this.”
“This group isn’t going away,” he added.
Two of the action items that the group has already embarked on and hope to make more progress in are in the public schools with the Safe Routes to Schools program and in the childcare/preschool area with the Grow Healthy Toolkit.
The other action items that the group wants to work on are: work site wellness (wellness in the workplace), community (healthy items on the menu), health care and faith.
Sawyer said that in the faith area, they hope to put health related inserts in the bulletins related to more activity.
He humorously added that, “We are not going to change your menu,” nothing Southern staples like macaroni and cheese.
As for the Safe Routes to Schools, Nicole Brown spoke about what all is involved in this state program.
She did state that Pomaria-Garmany and Prosperity-Rikard elementary schools are the only two to utilize this program and because of their rural area, the students walk at school a couple of times a year.
Brown said that the first thing is to get the Safe Route’s Walk to School program into the schools and she has met with Boundary Street, which is located in the city limits, and Jim Suber, the school district’s assistant superintendent for operations.
Brown said that the district would have to see what the interest is with the parents and children as far as walking to school goes.
She is looking forward to presenting the program to all of the principals in January when the registration will be open for the Walk to School day.
The Safe Routes program is federally funded from the highway association and then the state’s Department of Transportation is in charge on a state level.
Brown stated that “a percentage of money goes towards infrastructure and then a percentage goes towards non-infrastructure items such as safety education and encouragement to participate.”
“Infrastructure money is provided through Safe Routes, but we are in a hole right now,” said Brown who explained this is because of the wait list for roads, etc.
Brown also stated that there would be three levels - bronze, silver and gold - to award the level of commitment by each school and data is collected on an annual basis.
“If people are walking, they get excited about it,” said Brown, who wants to bring that excitement to the schools in Newberry County.
“The end goal is to create a travel plan,” said Brown, who refers to the four e’s, “We want to tackle education, safety education, health education, etc., enforcement which involvement with safety patrols and SROs (safety resource officers in schools), encouragement to spark participation and evaluation with surveys.”
As for the Grow Healthy toolkit, Newberry Child Development’s Janice Ironsides spoke about the training for the directors of the various child care development centers around the county.
Ironsides said, “It’s got to start somewhere with serving healthier foods.”
After the training, the centers will set at least two goals per center in terms of better nutrition and more fitness activity.
First Steps will follow up with the centers, Ironsides said.
The Eat Smart, Move More coalition meets once a month, every month and the next meeting is scheduled for Dec. 13 at 11 a.m. at the Newberry hospital’s board room.
They also have Facebook page under Eat Smart, Move More Newberry County and are always looking for people to be active in the group to help promote healthier eating and more fitness in the county.
The group is an umbrella group under the state’s Eat Smart, Move More group and is one of 20 chapters across the state.
For more information about getting involved, contact Sawyer at 321-1015 or Joe Belyusar at the Hospital’s Wellness Center at 405-7149.