Coalition to promote healthy living in Clayton

Clayton County wants its residents to live healthier, longer lives.

To that end, the Clayton County Board of Health, and several partners, officially launched the Clayton County Georgia Physical Activity Coalition, on Monday evening, at the J. Charley Griswell Senior Center in Jonesboro.

The coalition, according to Joel Hall, the Board of Health’s public information officer, was formed to better the lives of county residents by promoting healthy lifestyles, proper nutrition and fitness. “It will help concentrate our efforts and utilize resources that we already have,” said Hall, about the coalition. “We can use that partnership and enhance those efforts.”

The coalition’s partners include: the Clayton County Senior Services Department; Clayton County Extension Services; Clayton County Police Department; Clayton County Fire and Emergency Services; Clayton County Parks and Recreation Department, and Clayton County Public Schools, said Hall. Any organizations in the county that share the same goals as the coalition are encouraged to join, he added.

The majority of calls that Fire and Emergency Services

responds to are related to health issues, such as diabetes and heart attacks, said Battalion Chief Jacque Feilke. “We are on board all the way,” she said.

Hall said, although many local organizations can promote health and wellness on their own, a coalition provides a much stronger voice. “We can use the coalition to announce programs that folks are doing to improve the state of fitness and wellness in Clayton County ... It is more likely people will look at what we are proposing,” he said.

Clayton’s coalition is a branch of the GPAN statewide coalition, which was founded in 1997 by state health advocates, health professionals and students, said Hall. It was created to encourage physical education and health advocacy, as well as to implement local and state policies and programs related to active and healthy lifestyles for Georgians.

“One of the things GPAN has been supporting is local coalitions on a county level,” he said. Hall said the Board of Health has been working for about a year to create the local coalition. Though GPAN has been operating for 14 years, the Clayton Board of Health recently decided to create the local coalition because the county has seen compelling statistics related to diseases among residents in the last few years.

The Georgia Department of Health reports that cardiovascular disease remains to be the No. 1 cause of death and hospitalization in Clayton, said Hall. The department’s data stated that more county residents die from cardiovascular disease than from cancer, respiratory-system diseases, infectious and parasitic diseases, he explained.

“Cardiovascular disease, diabetes and hypertension –– diseases that have taken an extreme toll on county residents –– are mostly preventable through a combination of physical activity, healthy food choices and regular, moderate exercise,” added Clayton County District Health Director Alpha Fowler Bryan.

Bryan said the coalition will act as a sounding board for local programs and organizations already working in this effort. It will also allow organizations in the community to come together, share ideas and create new programs that fulfill the vision of the local coalition, she said.

Hall said Clayton’s GPAN coalition will provide “healthy-minded agencies, non-profits and individuals, the opportunity to brainstorm and leverage resources toward the improvement of overall wellness in the county.”

For more information about the coalition, contact the Clayton County Board of Health, at (678) 610-7199.