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Have a healthy and happy summer

As spring turns to summer, we all look forward to getting outside more often for fresh air and exercise. Your county government offers many ways to help you do that.

Charlotte Nash, Chairman Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners

Studies by the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation show a 26 percent obesity rate in Gwinnett adults, making a quarter of our adult population at higher risk for serious conditions like diabetes, heart disease, stroke, osteoarthritis, and respiratory problems. About 20 percent of Gwinnett residents get no leisure time physical activity, which is not good but at least it’s lower than the nationwide county average of 28 percent.

Parks and Recreation and Eastside Medical Center kicked off a new program in late April called Live Healthy Gwinnett with a goal of educating Gwinnett adults about the benefits of making simple lifestyle changes, such as eating more vegetables, increasing physical activity, and reducing stress.

For kids at summer camps in our parks, a pilot program with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta called Strong4Life is emphasizing healthy eating and weight control. The goals are to teach summer camp staff and volunteers about childhood obesity, healthy habits, and how to be healthy role models for the campers.

We are also the only county in Georgia to get a grant from the National Recreation and Park Association for nutrition education supported by the Walmart Foundation. The gift includes $26,200 plus training materials worth another $10,000. Program goals are to increase healthy meals for children in low-income communities, to teach them the importance of healthy eating, and to increase access to healthier foods and physical activity opportunities. After growing up on a farm in Gwinnett, I can’t resist saying that gardening is a great way to get fresh air and exercise. The Gwinnett County Cooperative Extension Service offers lots of classes to help you get started on your home garden and instructions for canning and freezing once your bounty is ready to be harvested. And if you need space for planting, Water Resources has a community garden on the grounds of the Lanier Filter Plant in Buford.

Our Health and Human Services division plays a key role in promoting health as well. One good way to learn more is by watching their Growing in Gwinnett television show on TVgwinnett, our government-access cable channel, or on demand on the county website at Summer is also a good time to volunteer. According to a report from the Corporation for National and Community Service, volunteering can yield individual health benefits. To find a variety of volunteer opportunities, search the Volunteer Gwinnett website at www.volunteergwinnett .net.