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Health Alliance to meet Friday at ACH

In an effort to continue a plan to make Escambia County residents more health-conscious, the Escambia Strategic Alliance for Health Program will be offering a glimpse into future plans for the area Friday.

Ruth Harrell, an Alliance member as well as a member of the Coalition for a Healthier Escambia County, said Friday’s meeting will offer area residents an opportunity to explore possibilities to improve healthy living.

The meeting is set for noon at Atmore Community Hospital on Medical Park Drive.

“Friday’s focus will be on getting an update on the Strategic Alliance in our county,” Harrell said. “The meeting is open to anyone concerned about the health of the community.”

Harrell said the Alliance is operating on a five-year program that has been funded by the Alabama Department of Public Health to help reduce health-risk factors that are prevalent in Escambia County.

“It’s no secret that diabetes, heart disease, obesity and other related factors run higher in Alabama than in the nation as a hole,” Harrell said. “As a matter of fact, Alabama ranks No. 2 in the nation for rate of obesity in adults and children.”

Harrell said the funding grant will offer opportunities to develop ways to change some of the prevalence rates in the area.

“We are part of a statewide activity to help change some of the prevalence rates in Escambia County,” Harrell said. “We can do that by attacking issues of not only fitness, but what communities are doing and can do to promote fitness.”

Harrell said the scheduled meeting of the Alliance will offer information that will target areas including Atmore and Flomaton.

“We will have our task force chairs from Atmore, Flomaton and Brewton at the meeting,” Harrell said. “However, we will be targeting this initiative in Atmore and Flomaton since there hasn’t been much done in these two towns.”

Harrell said $20,000 has been made available and plans on how best to utilize those funds could be discussed during Friday’s noon event.

“We now have to develop a comprehensive community assessment program relating to chronic disease to see how best to use those funds,” Harrell said. “We have been collecting data over the past year and are about ready now to develop a community action plan for the project. Requests for funding for specific activities will be discussed Friday.”

Those expected to be in attendance Friday to offer tips and ideas on Alliance projects include Cheryl Vickery and Ross Terry from Atmore; Wanda Vanlandingham from Flomaton; Kathi Needham of Dallas County who is serving as mentor for Escambia County projects; and Stacy Adams, a director with the statewide program. Members of the Coalition for a Healthier Escambia County will also be on hand as well as directors of the group.

“This isn’t just our group,” Harrell said. “This is a group that is open to anyone. Anyone who is concerned about the health and fitness of our county is encouraged to become a member of the group.”