What your Health Department can do for you: A Spotlight on the Creating Healthy Communities Program

By Ciara Martin - Special to Times-Sentinel

In today’s modern age of technology, the acquiring of information is an easy task. In fact, information is so easy to come by that often individuals become bombarded with the sheer amount of information they are faced with, or even worse they miss important information simply because it was not advertised enough. Too often this is the case when it comes to the services that the Meigs County Health Department offers to the public.

As a health department employee, I have had numerous conversations with individuals who are unaware of the services we can provide to them and their community. With this concept in mind, I would like to bring to light one of the programs that is housed at the Meigs County Health Department. The program I am referring to is the Creating Healthy Communities (CHC) Program.

The CHC program is a grant funded program awarded by the Ohio Department of Health. The grant is focused on preventing chronic disease in the state of Ohio. In order to prevent chronic disease, the grant addresses three focus areas: tobacco, active living, and healthy eating. In Meigs County, the 2018 grant funding has been used to address the focus areas of active living and healthy eating within the community.

For 2018, the CHC program has spearheaded seven projects geared towards the betterment of Meigs County. Three of these projects were healthy eating based, whereas the remaining projects were targeting active living. This year’s projects benefited the areas of Pomeroy, Middleport, and Racine. Through this grant, the CHC Coalition was able to assist the Village of Pomeroy in establishing a micro market based on the American Health Association’s nutritional guidelines at the Meigs County Health Department, open and furnish a fitness facility that is free to all Meigs County employees at the Meigs County EMS building, and plant a community orchard on the Meigs County Soil and Water Conservation area where the produce will be free to the community once the fruit and nuts have grown.

As of December, all three of these projects mentioned above are completed and accessible to their intended participants. The micro market can be utilized by all Meigs County residents while they are visiting their local health department. Better yet, none of the healthy items that are currently available are over a dollar in price. The orchard, based in Rutland, is projected to produce apples, nuts, and berries as early as next Spring/Summer. The fitness facility has been successfully open for over six months. However, in order to increase the availability of this great resource, the EMS Director, Robbie Jacks has generously extended the hours of use; the fitness facility is now open from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. to all Meigs County employees.

Furthermore, the Village of Middleport received both healthy eating and active living projects. The Mid-Valley Christian School teamed up with the health department to develop and build a usable garden and greenhouse. In 2019, the staff and students plan to not only consume some of the healthy produce, but also to sale a portion of their yield within the community to ensure the sustainability of the project, and too provide additional sources of healthy food choices within the county. The greenhouse and garden are not the only new items to be introduced to the community of Middleport through the CHC program, in fact the Village is also introducing a new pocket park that will feature a water fountain; this park will be fully operational in the Spring of 2019, but keep in mind the community can still access this new green area prior to the water element being turned on in the warmer months to come. This park is located by the Farmer’s Bank ATM in Middleport.

The final Village to receive assistance from CHC funding for 2018 was that of Racine. Racine implemented an additional piece of playground equipment at their Star Mill Park. This equipment, the NEOS 360, meets the standards set by the American with Disabilities Act, and provides interactive play for individuals with all levels of ability. On Saturday, Dec. 8, the village held a holiday celebration for the community, and the newest addition to the park was unveiled for all the children of Racine to enjoy.

The final project that was addressed through the 2018 CHC funding was the Meigs County Pedestrian Master Plan. Currently, the county does not have a pedestrian plan, and for this reason, there are not as many safe and user friendly routes for Meigs County residents to utilize. By producing a master plan, Meigs County will be able to use this plan to secure additional grant funding that will help to address some of the transportation concerns in the county. For example, this plan will help to identify where additional multi-use trails can be implemented, or where sidewalks need repaired or added to increase the physical activity levels of all Meigs County inhabitants.

Although the CHC grant is housed at the Meigs County Health Department, it truly is a community and countywide effort to make this program prosperous. This grant has positively impacted several neighborhoods and agencies throughout Meigs County. Not to mention, this grant would never be as successful as it has been in Meigs County without the dedicated work of the CHC Coalition and partners who receive the grant funding each year. The CHC Coalition is a passionate group of individuals who are committed to the ongoing improvements of the community they love; they volunteer their time, knowledge, and skills to ensure that selected CHC projects are the best use of funds, are implemented correctly, and are successful and sustainable. If you are an individuals or organization who too is enthusiastic about improving Meigs County in the pursuit of preventing chronic disease, our coalition is always looking to expand and diversify our group.

The partners who are awarded the funds are just as steadfast to the CHC program and its goals as the coalition itself. These partners donate their time and assist in financial commitments to make sure that projects are executed productively. In fact, between the allotted CHC grant funds, and the in-kind donations of each established partnership, the CHC program has devoted nearly $50,000 to Meigs County in just 2018 alone.

The CHC program’s motto is, “Making the healthy choice the easy choice by transforming the community to create a culture of health through leadership development, system change, and improved access.”

It is our goal here at the health department to fight for the health of Meigs County, and this Creating Healthy Communities Program is just one of the ways that our staff is committed to this cause. I hope this overview of the CHC program has informed you of some of the good that the health department has provided in 2018 to the community it so proudly serves.

Thankfully the CHC grant has been awarded to the Meigs County Health Department for the 2019 grant year as well, meaning that this great work towards preventing chronic disease in Meigs County will continue with the tackling of additional projects next year. Should you want to know more about the CHC program and the terrific projects that it generates for your community please feel free to contact me at [email protected]


By Ciara Martin

Special to Times-Sentinel

Ciara Martin is the Creating Healthy Communities project director for the Meigs County Health Department.

Ciara Martin is the Creating Healthy Communities project director for the Meigs County Health Department.