In the fall of 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention awarded UGA Extension a $1.25 million grant to support obesity prevention efforts in two rural Georgia counties that was named as having some of the highest obesity rates in the state; and Taliaferro County, Crawfordville, GA., was one of the two counties named. In addition to a high obesity rate, Taliaferro County also has a high rate of poverty, other chronic diseases and insufficient safe areas to be physically active. The initial grant was for 2 years, and thus, the Healthier Together Taliaferro Coalition was created-hopefully, to encourage residents to begin making healthier food choices and choosing to become physically active as a family.
Early in 2017, after completing an assessment of the community, a community wide survey was shared with the Taliaferro County residents. Data collected provided the need for going forward with strategies to enhance and promote health and wellness education, to provide physical activity programs and to increase access to healthier foods. The county is classified/determined as a “food desert”, an area that has limited access to affordable and nutritious food. The nearest grocery store is located approximately 15-20 miles, one way, to three surrounding municipalities. In addition to the county’s limitation to attain fresh, affordable and nutritious foods, the county also lacks safe areas for family units to be physically active. The outreach project, (HTT) Healthier Together Taliaferro’s primary goals are to implement programs that will encourage and promote healthy eating and physical activities in places where children, youth and families spend their time.
In May 2018 and May 2019, Healthier Together collaborated with multiple community partners to promote the Taliaferro County Bike Rodeo. The Bike Rodeo accomplished two of four goals formed by the HTT Coalition. Goal 1: Provide access and use of safe exercise area, and Goal 3: Provide healthy/nutritional education programs (choices and preparation).
The event occurred at AH Stephens State Park, which provided a safe environment for families to be physically active – biking, interactive games-inclusive of all age level. The Taliaferro County Sheriff’s Department (a collaborative partner) shared bicycle safety rules with an eager group of youths and family members. Participants (children and parents) enjoyed a controlled and safe trail ride through the State Park with the TC Chief-Deputy leading the way and parents volunteering as rear guards. The trail ride was a first for some attendees and they shared interest in returning as a family to visit the park in the future.
Children and accompanying family members also enjoyed the healthy education programs provided by Wilkes County Extension Nutrition Educator. Participants appreciated and enjoyed (the easy to prepare) fruit parfaits, the apple cinnamon-yogurt dip, the pretzel/nuts ‘to go’ bags with easy healthy and nutritious recipes cards that can be prepared at home.
Fifty-two participants: thirty-one youths and twenty-one (parents/volunteers) enjoyed the Bike Rodeo. The UGA/CDC Healthier Together Taliaferro grant funded the event.
Taliaferro County youth and family members will have a desire to demonstrate and support long-term behavioral changes, i.e. – choosing as a family to eat healthier and becoming physically active as a family.