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The Franklin News-Post
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
Fax: 540-483-8013

County non-profits tackle community health issues

Monday, April 28, 2014

Franklin County's non-profit leaders are coming together to form Healthy Franklin County, which will tackle obesity and other health concerns on a community-wide scale.

Led by the United Way of Franklin County and the Franklin County Family YMCA, Healthy Franklin County will bring together municipal, nonprofit and business interests to create strategies and programs for better health.

The county's obesity rates are higher than the state average, according to a recent health needs assessment compiled by Carilion Clinic and Carilion Franklin Memorial Hospital.

"Obesity is linked to a number of health conditions including heart disease, diabetes and cancer," said Nancy Bell, executive director of United Way of Franklin County. "These chronic diseases are expensive to treat and often fatal to the individuals who suffer with them." She added that many people who are struggling with obesity need a better understanding of nutrition, exercise, diet and weight maintenance strategies. Healthy Franklin County will provide the resources, facilities and expertise to create effective intervention programs serving county residents.

Bell said she has been working with YMCA CEO Jim Currie to initiate the Healthy Franklin County program and that they have begun recruiting leaders of other local nonprofits for a steering committee.

"I am very excited about the impact this initiative will have on the county and the fact that this program is consistent with the Y's mission of healthy spirit, mind and body. We have a chance to bring positive change to our county and its residents," Currie said.

Bell said that ,even though a new steering committee is forming, "We want to work with any existing groups that may be tackling obesity and community wellness. The only way we are ever going to be successful is to mobilize time, talent and financial resources to promote healthier lifestyles."

Bell believes that the timing is right to tackle this community challenge.

"The YMCA is adding all kinds of programs for residents of all ages, and the newly christened Bernard Healthcare Center and the Rocky Mount Lifestyle Health Center are shining examples of how the community is being proactive to improve the health of its citizens," Bell said. "This is a lifestyle issue and if we all focus our efforts on tackling it, we will be able to save lives, lower medical costs and improve quality of life in Franklin County."

"Carilion Clinic's Mission is to improve the health of the communities we serve," said Bill Jacobsen, administrator at Carilion Franklin Memorial Hospital, and Vice President of Carilion Clinic. "Healthy Franklin County is a wonderful initiative to ensure that all of the key community stakeholders sharing that mission come together to achieve something meaningful and measurable from our health assessment baseline, which was developed by these key stakeholders. This is a community effort and it will take the whole community to make it successful and show significant improvements in health status."

Anyone interested in serving on a workgroup can contact Bell at the United Way office at (540) 483-4949.

United Way of Franklin County leads initiatives that improve quality of life in Franklin County.

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