Health Initiative impacts Northampton

Published 5:05 pm Monday, September 4, 2017

JACKSON – Among the various presentations to the Northampton County Board of Commissioners during their regular meeting on August 21 was one informational session on the Roanoke Valley Community Health Initiative. Audrey Hardy, the community health coordinator at Halifax Regional Medical Center, presented information about the program and how they’re making an impact within the county.

“We wanted to make sure that in Northampton County you realize what we’re doing, things that are to come, and what we’re working on,” Hardy explained at the beginning of her presentation.

The Community Health Initiative was started in 2011 as a collaborative effort from Halifax Regional, the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, and various partners across Halifax and Northampton counties. Both counties were ranked near the bottom on health outcomes in North Carolina, Hardy said.

“We see a lot of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and those kinds of things. And we said ‘well what’s the common denominator there,’ and it’s what we’re eating and how much we’re moving,” she explained of what the program’s targeted goals are.

They started the “Get Fit, Stay Fit” campaign across both counties as a way to reach those goals.

“It’s a comprehensive five year effort for residents across Halifax and Northampton County to improve our health outcomes through education, healthy eating, physical activity, recreation, and local parks and recreation,” Hardy said as a general overview of the campaign.

“We’re having an impact, believe it or not,” she added.

In Northampton specifically, the program provides a lot of support to various events in the county throughout the year, such as donating water, healthy snacks, and door prizes to Recess events and Bike/Walk to School Day at the public schools. They also work to support the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) in the county by “exposing kids to other things to eat,” Hardy explained, citing fruits like kiwi as an example.

FamilyFest is an annual event held in April that was started by the Initiative to bring the community together. The Cultural and Wellness Center in Jackson hosted the 2016 Fest, and Hardy says they’d like to host it there again in 2018.

Regarding recreation, the program created a “Map of Play” that shows play spaces for children throughout the county. Hardy said one of their goals is to put up Map of Play signs in the different towns so that residents can be more informed of their options.

The program also worked with Dominion Energy to add a playground and walking trail to the Garysburg Community Center, and they intend to look into adding playgrounds in other towns and communities as well.

One of the reasons, Hardy said, she came to speak before the Board is because they would like to increase the participation of residents in Northampton.

“You can speak to what needs to happen here in Northampton County better than anybody,” Hardy said, encouraging people to join them at the table.

Commissioner Geneva Faulkner asked how often meetings were held. Hardy explained that they have monthly and quarterly meetings. The quarterly ones are held on the first Tuesday of each new quarter, and the monthly meetings are held on the first Thursday of the month.

The Board of Commissioners thanked Hardy for her presentation and all spoke in support of what the Initiative is doing within the county. Commissioner Fannie Greene said she had attended FamilyFest before and thought it was a great and successful event for the county.

Chairman Robert Carter said that they would reach out to see who would be interested in helping the Initiative move forward.