“Growing Healthy Communities” is a program of the Arkansas Coalition for Obesity Prevention (ArCOP) that started in 2010, which was when the City of Nashville was selected to participate in the program.
Subsequently the City established its Growing Healthy Communities (GHC) Committee, submitted a strategic plan to ArCOP addressing healthy nutrition and active lifestyles, and in May 2011 received the first round of grant funds to implement the plan. The GHC Committee has since been dedicated to building the capacity to reduce obesity by increasing access to physical activity and healthy foods, as well as implementing environmental and policy changes that support healthy living. Healthier environments produce healthier people. And healthier people produce greater economic outputs, consume fewer healthcare resources and lead better, longer lives. With the Howard County Health Improvement Coalition serving as the lead, the Growing Healthy Communities Initiative brings together individuals, companies and organizations across sector lines to recognize a healthy community is a better community on virtually every measure of success.
The goal of the Nashville GHC initiative is linking community resources to improve nutrition behaviors while increasing consumption of and access to locally grown fresh produce.
The primary objective is to promote self-efficacy regarding health behaviors utilizing community health awareness campaigns and traditional focused training. Another objective is the establishment of individual and community sustainable gardens, amplified grower participation at local farmers’ markets, and continued education to increase consumption of fresh produce. The funded activities enhance and expand our proven efforts in promoting healthy lifestyles by implementing and enhancing already successful programming through partnerships. The Growing Healthy Communities projects include direct education that affect primary and secondary targets, but also weighing heavily on media campaigns to raise awareness for all county residents and surrounding area.
The 2016 GHC projects directly reached 3,361 people, including adults and children.
A. The “Getting the Word Out” Program Promotion includes project notices in each local newspapers, two radio stations, email notices, Facebook, and various local websites for a county population of 14,000 and the City of Nashville population of 4,600.
B. Healthy Eating Libraries: There are over 450 students at Nashville Elementary that are reading the books, approximately 100 local residents have utilized the publications at the public library and over 25 out-of-county residents have checked out these publications as well for a total participation rate of 600.
C. The “You Can Do It” Home Gardening Series has reached 17 adults at a regional UAEX training, 44 Square Food Gardening participants, 5 students, and 641 people through educational workshops for a total of 707 local residents directly impacted.
D. Community & Universally-Accessible Gardens: Direct participation at the various gardening, beekeeping, and drip irrigation workshops and activities was more than 1,010. Additionally impacted are family members who will benefit from new/improved gardens
E. The Community Greenhouse project has allowed over 150 sixth grade students at Nashville Elementary a location for propagation and workshops to support their Garden Lab project. It has also allowed a propagation and workshop site for over 40 Master Gardeners.
F. Local Grower Trainings: The 2016 Farmers’ Market Vendor Training attendance exceeded 100 with more than 50 of those being Howard County potential market vendors/growers. There were 23 vendors/growers who registered for the markets, including 6 new market vendors/growers. Additionally, there were 3 market vendor/growers that attended the Drip Irrigation Workshop at Howard County Children’s Center in March.
G. A variety of nutrition classes were held throughout the year with Jean Ince, Family & Consumer Science Agent for the Howard County Cooperative Extension Service being the lead instructor. Jean offered community based diabetes cooking classes, Mediterranean Cooking class, youth cooking school and several healthy cooking demonstrations at the Farmers’ Market reaching a total of 533 local residents
H. Farm Expo Summit: This year’s summit was called “Food to Table” summit for 173 sixth grade students from Nashville & Dierks Elementary Schools, 25 Nashville High School students, 26 school staff and 22 adult presenters for a total of 245 local residents directly reached.