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It has been announced that the Adams County Winning with Wellness Initiative has been chosen to participate in a five-year, multistate study involving Purdue Extension to find causes and preventions for childhood obesity in low-income preschoolers in rural communities, including two Indiana counties.
Winning With Wellness (WWW) consists of a cross-section of community leaders whose mission is to raise awareness of and encourage involvement in the many wellness opportunities within Adams County, according to a news release.
The study, Communities Preventing Childhood Obesity (CPCO), helps community health coalitions to identify and correct problems that could be contributing to childhood obesity, such as lack of easily accessible playgrounds or grocery stores, the announcement said. The project, led by Kansas State University and funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, involves two counties each from Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
The project began in March of 2011 and will end in March of 2016.
"The structure of this study is a model that includes the whole community," said Angie Abbott, assistant director for Purdue Extension in the College of Health and Human Sciences. "It takes the individual, the family and the environment we live in to make a change. It's great if I, as an individual, say that I want to eat more fruits and vegetables. But if I live in an area where fresh fruits and vegetables aren't available, then I won't be able to meet my goal despite my good intentions."
Adams and Henry counties in Indiana were chosen to participate in the project after completing an application that assessed their community health coalitions' connection with local neighborhoods and ability to effect change in their areas.
Nancy Manuel, Health and Human Sciences Educator for Purdue Extension Adams County, is spearheading the grant project in Adams County
“Adams County was selected because of the strong presence of the wellness initiative locally as well as the fact that we already have contacts with agencies in the community who are working with four-year-olds and their families,” said Manuel. “This grant is quite an honor for WWW and our community.”
The counties' health coalitions are using a combination of observation, written assessments and parent surveys to form a comprehensive picture of what improvements their communities need. Once the assessments are complete, the coalitions will implement programs to address the needs. If they wish, they can choose from a list of research-based programs compiled by a team of faculty and graduate students working with the main research team. Evaluations at the end of the five years will assess the effectiveness of each county's programs.
In Adams County, Manuel and a subcommittee have been conducting assessments and will be designing and implementing a plan that meets local community needs, the announcement said.
Subcommittee members (in addition to Manuel) include Kim Fullove, director, Safe Schools Healthy Students, North Adams Schools; Diana Macklin, coordinator, Worthman Fitness Center, Adams Memorial Hospital; Deb Mishler, Family Nutrition Program, Purdue Extension Adams County; and Chris Krull, director of Leisure Services, Decatur-Adams County Parks & Recreation.
“In early 2013, our CPCO subcommittee will begin analyzing the data we’ve collected over the past few months through community assessments and surveys,” said Manuel.
"Obesity is a national concern and, as such, is a high priority for both Purdue Extension and health organizations around the world," Abbott said. "It has a huge social impact, and there are huge needs in our Indiana communities that we hope to meet through the results of this study."