Spartanburg Regional Foundation and Partners for Active Living have received a grant from The Duke Endowment to help improve health in Spartanburg County. The grant will support prevention efforts through Eat Smart Move More Spartanburg, a coalition of diverse community organizations that SRF and PAL support.
This coalition will be one of twenty across the Carolinas participating in The Duke Endowment’s Healthy People, Healthy Carolinas initiative. This initiative promotes behavior changes that address chronic issues such as unhealthy weight, diabetes, and heart disease through physical activity and better nutrition. Local coalitions will involve leaders from a wide spectrum of community organizations in developing ways to engage residents in improving their health.
Healthy People, Healthy Carolinas is now active in ten S.C. counties—Greenville, Kershaw, Fairfield, Orangeburg and the Chesterfield/Dillon/Marlboro area joined last year; Spartanburg, York, Barnwell, Georgetown and the Dorchester/Berkeley/Charleston area have just been added. The initiative began in early 2016 in North Carolina, and the Endowment has plans for even further expansion.
Research shows that South Carolina ranks 42nd among all states when it comes to the overall health of its residents, earning poor rankings for its obesity and physical inactivity rates. Healthy People, Healthy Carolinas recognizes that health and well-being are created and sustained not just through individual and clinical efforts, but through the cooperation and support of the extended local community.
“Where we live, where we go to school and work, how we spend our free time—even our ability to access fresh food and safely exercise near our homes—all contribute to our health and well-being,” said Laura Ringo, PAL’s Executive Director. “To truly improve health within our community, we have to expand how we think about what affects our health.”
“It’s more than just what we eat and how many calories we burn,” said Carey Rothschild, Director of Community Health Policy and Strategy at Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System. “It’s how our community and its economy impact our health. If we can improve health for even a subset of our community, we will have learned a lot about how to increase quality of life for all people.”
Healthy People, Healthy Carolinas provides opportunities to bring together leaders from hospitals, health departments and other health-promoting organizations. A crucial first step—and one that is funded by The Duke Endowment’s grant—is to strengthen the infrastructure of the local coalitions that are coordinating the effort so that they’re well-positioned to identify and implement interventions that work.
“The health challenges facing the Carolinas have been decades in the making,” said Lin Hollowell, Director of Health Care at The Duke Endowment. “They cannot be effectively addressed overnight, though we’re starting to see the roots of progress take hold in the first set of Healthy People, Healthy Carolinas communities. The health challenges also cannot be solved by individuals and organizations working alone. Through Healthy People, Healthy Carolinas, communities can work together to confront their problems and make the most progress in achieving solutions.”
Representatives from the coalitions will participate in a learning collaborative with opportunities to share information with each other as they develop best practices for organizing, planning and implementing evidence-based programs known to improve health.
“The coalitions selected by the Endowment are intentionally diverse and unique,” said Laura Cole of the South Carolina Hospital Association, the organization which is providing expert assistance to each local coalition in the Palmetto State. “While there will be many opportunities for exchanging ideas, each community will receive support to pave its own path forward. The hope is that eventually the lessons of these coalitions can inform the work of others throughout the Carolinas.”