Community partners to push health initiative

Southern Regional Medical Center Foundation, in Riverdale, will work in collaboration with several community organizations to bring awareness of childhood diabetes and obesity to children in the Clayton County School System, and their families.

The hospital’s foundation received a check for $10,000, earlier this month, from the Rite-Aid Foundation, which will be used for the county’s “Planting the Seed for Good Health” program. The goal is to provide educational materials to promote healthier lifestyles in the community.

The partners in the initiative, which is being called the Diabetes Prevention Collaboration, include: the Clayton County Board of Health; the Clayton County Board of Commissioners; Clayton County Public Schools; and Clayton State University.

“The Rite Aid Foundation is proud to partner with community stakeholders in addressing the health concerns of the children in Clayton County,” said Gayle Rife, manager of the Rite Aid Foundation.

The mission of the Diabetes Prevention Collaboration is to magnify the health issues connected to childhood obesity and diabetes, through a program that will mesh with the daily activities of elementary-age students, while also addressing any life-threatening conditions.

Hospital officials said the money from the grant will be used to implement a model program, known as the Coordinated Approach to Child Health (CATCH®), which is based on an obesity-prevention study funded by the National Institutes of Health.

The program is being launched, during the 2011-2012 school year, in six schools in the district: Lee Street, Callaway, River’s Edge, Haynie, Anderson, and Martin Luther King Jr., elementary schools.

School officials said the program will focus on nutrition-education and physical-activity intervention, in an effort to increase levels of physical activity, increase cardio-respiratory fitness levels, and improve nutrition habits and knowledge of healthier foods.

Kathy Marshall, a diabetes nurse at Southern Regional Medical Center, said she is proud of the spirit of cooperation among the community partners since the launching of the initiative.

“In order for a program of this magnitude to succeed, there must be buy-in from the community stakeholders,” she said, “and that’s exactly what the Diabetes Prevention Collaboration team represents.”

She added that she was especially grateful to Clayton County School Superintendent Edmond Heatley, and his “amazing team,” for its support of the program.