MILLEDGEVILLE — A new grant will help continue the fight against childhood obesity in Milledgeville and Baldwin County.
The Center for Health and Social Issues (CHSI) at Georgia College was recently awarded a grant from The Healthcare Georgia Foundation. It provides CHSI with $150,000 for the first year of a three-year Childhood Obesity Prevention Program. The Center will also receive $100,000 in year two and $75,000 in year three of the program.
“The Healthcare Georgia Foundation had heard about our work and actually asked us to apply for one of their grants,” said Dr. Jim Lidstone, Georgia College professor and director of CHSI. “After the selection process was complete, we were notified that we were one of only three groups in the state to receive the grant.”
The three main goals CHSI hopes to accomplish with the funds are to help make Milledgeville/Baldwin County a more bicycle friendly city, to work with the city and county to establish a land bank to turn abandoned properties into productive spaces and to work with the public schools to increase the amount of physical activity for students each day.
“By receiving this grant, it validates all the work we’ve done up to this point,” said Lidstone.
One example is the work in the Harrisburg neighborhood on the south side of Milledgeville.
In the last year, Live Healthy Baldwin, a project of CHSI, and its partners helped install a community garden and walking trail at the Collins P. Lee Community Center.
“My husband, Joseph, has lived here for more than 40 years,” said Gladys Ward. “The garden and trail have brought our community together. We have gotten to know neighbors we didn’t know before.”
Joseph and Gladys Ward have been pioneers with the project. Joseph serves as the manager of the garden and Gladys serves on the board of the Milledgeville Community Garden Association, which is a partner in the project.
“It’s made a lot of people feel better about our community,” said Gladys. “Even more important is the fact that our children are learning to be healthy and live active lives.”
The original grant through the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to fund this and other projects was set to expire later this year.
With no clear path to continued funding, Lidstone began seeking ways to continue to give people better access to healthy foods and physical activity.
“This grant from The Healthcare Georgia Foundation came at the perfect time,” said Lidstone. “It allows us to continue the work we’ve started and begin these new projects.”
Live Healthy Baldwin is one project under that umbrella which is a community-wide initiative that works to reverse the childhood obesity epidemic among at-risk children by increasing the opportunities available for healthy food choices and physical activity.
“Now the people in Harrisburg have something they can be proud of, a safe place for children to play and new way for people to get engaged in their community,” said Baldwin County Commissioner Tommy French, who has also worked with the project in Harrisburg. “I’ve lived in this community for most of my life and have always envisioned it being an integral part of Baldwin County. Now I can see that happening. I hope this continues to spread throughout Baldwin County.”
The mission of the Healthcare Georgia Foundation is to advance the health of all Georgians and to expand access to affordable, quality health care for underserved individuals and communities.
The Center for Health and Social Issues at Georgia College works to improve the health of the residents of Central Georgia through collaborative campus/community partnerships by providing research and education opportunities concerning contemporary health problems and social issues.
For more information on the Center for Health and Social Issues, visit gcsu.edu/chsi.
To find out more about Live Healthy Baldwin, visit livehealthybaldwin.weebly.com.
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