Making the Healthy Choice the Easy Choice

Community What's Happening

Kershaw County Comes Together to Make the Healthy Choice the Easy Choice

Issue
In 2006, according to a report from the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), having high blood pressure, being overweight and living sedentary lifestyles are all risk factors that contribute to the first and second causes of death in Kershaw County, cancer and heart disease.  After attending the 2008 South Carolina Obesity Summit, a group from Kershaw County wanted to know what they could do to improve these statistics.  Staff at KershawHealth’s Health Resource Center and DHEC – Region 4 put their heads together and developed a plan to bring different community stakeholders together and get to the bottom of the problem.

Intervention
In 2008, Eat Smart Move More South Carolina offered communities across the state an opportunity to apply for seed grants to address the issues of physical inactivity and poor nutrition at the local level.  KershawHealth took the lead in convening a group of community members and upon discussion and approval of the group, decided to apply.  KershawHealth received the seed grant to develop a local coalition to assess the policies and environments in Kershaw County that affect people’s daily choices.  The group consisted of staff from KershawHealth, the Kershaw County Community Medical Clinic, Clemson University Extension Cooperative Services, DHEC – Region 4, the City of Camden, Kershaw County School District, and Kershaw County Parks and Recreation.

The main assessment tool used was an online survey which was shared through community websites, email lists, and local media.  Over 200 community members responded to the survey.  From this, it was found that:

  • residents are unaware of the physical activity opportunities available to them
  • reasons for not being active included: not enough recreation facilities or sidewalks and stray dogs
  • the majority of respondents would like to see more walking trails, an indoor swimming pool, a “Whole Foods” type market, and healthier options at local restaurants in Kershaw County.

Impact
Over the span of a year, the small group of interested community members expanded to include the Kershaw County Planning Department and the United Way of Kershaw County, and continues to grow.  Because of the relationship building and common focus on making Kershaw County a better place to live, the group has had many exciting accomplishments in a small amount of time.

The group became Eat Smart Move More Kershaw County.

The Wateree River was included in a blue trail project by American Rivers to promote canoeing and kayaking as forms of physical activity.  Eat Smart Move More Kershaw County participated in the National Trails Day celebration of this natural resource.

Eat Smart Move More Kershaw County was awarded a national grant from the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors to participate in the Action Communities for Health, Innovation, and EnVironmental ChangE (ACHIEVE) initiative.  This is a three year process which will include further assessments of the physical environment and the development and implementation of an action plan to create healthier places and policies.

Eat Smart Move More Kershaw County was one of five communities in SC to receive a Balancing InTake and Expenditure (BITE) grant from Eat Smart Move More SC to plan and implement community based physical activity and nutrition efforts.

Contact:  Lori Phillips, MPH, CHES, Chronic Disease Program Manager
S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control – Region 4
1705 West Evans Street, Florence, SC 29501
(843) 413-6433; phillilc@dhec.sc.gov