County ranks high among physically inactive

Published 10:20 am Monday, April 4, 2011

Escambia County ranks among the highest in the state for percentage of adults who are physically inactive. Fully 33.7 percent of adults in Escambia County are inactive or not active enough. This is according to The Department of Health and Human Services and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who have released a chart showing just how unhealthy Alabamians have become.

There is a move to change the health of both young and old here in Escambia County. The Coalition of a Healthier Escambia County, along with RSVP and YMCA are working together to change the way people think and feel about the county health.

Dr. Marsha Raulerson of Brewton, a member of American Academy of Pediatrics, has received a ‘Be Our Voice’ grant. Pilot sites were chosen and this area is one of them. The plan is to work with advocacy groups, hoping to change the mindset of children and their parents to see the value of eating right and exercising.

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Raulerson has always been an advocate of raising healthier children by starting them off right while they are young. Three committees were organized to work on the health of those who live in Escambia County. The committees were Community Garden with Amy Cooley of RSVP in charge, Physical Activity led by Vivian Layton and Alline Emanuel working with the idea of a Community Center, which will be the building that is now Brewton Middle School. All of these entities are working together to promote education and healthier adults and children in our area.

“Escambia County has a lot going for it,” Raulerson said. “The problem is that people don’t take advantage of what we have. A sign has gone up at Fort Crawford to encourage people to walk and work in the community garden. There are walking paths there and at Burnt Corn Creek Park. It would be really great if we could get some lights so the parks could be utilized at night. If more adults would get involved in becoming healthier, children would follow their lead.”

Fort Crawford has been the site of the community garden, planted for the first time last year. This year, the hope is to expand the garden.

Amy Cooley with the RSVP said they hope to have a community garden planted at the Brewton Middle School this spring.

“We hope to do that and also have a Children’s Fair,” Cooley said. “I remember a little girl who couldn’t wait to get home with her vegetable to get it cooked. Kids enjoy working and learning how to grow their own food. It’s important that they learn where their food comes from and at the same time get some exercise. Eating fresh fruit and vegetables is so much healthier, but the exercise is also important.

“I think that children should not only be persuaded to eat healthier but they should be told why it is important,” she added. “I think there are plans for peas, tomatoes, onions, strawberries and herbs to be planted at the garden at Fort Crawford. We may even have some corn, butterbeans and watermelons. Not only kids, but adults too, can have some fun working together and there is a great deal of pride in accomplishing something like the community garden.”

According to Cooley, we should recognize that physical activity does not mean running a marathon. It doesn’t even have to be organized. Any kind of activity is good for everyone.

Stephanie Walker is working with the groups and said that the community gardens are not just at the Fort Crawford site and the Brewton Middle School.

“We hope to have community gardens throughout Brewton and East Brewton,” she said. “There is a garden at the Catholic Church Nutrition Center and the group is working on others. The concept is to grow your own healthy food and taste it. The food is so much better for you and tastes better too, not to mention the pride that goes with growing your own food.

The Atmore Area YMCA has scheduled Healthy Kids Day on Saturday, April 9 from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m A Healthier Kids Day on May 7 from 9 a.m. until noon. at the Brewton Middle School.

In addition to what is going on in Brewton, plans are being made to bring other communities in Escambia County into the program and make this a countywide project.