A few weeks ago I received an email from the Sherburne County Public Health Department requesting my participation in a focus group regarding physical activity, nutrition and obesity in Sherburne County.
I learned that Sherburne County Public Health recently received a $604,000 Statewide Health Improvement Program grant to be used to implement community wellness strategies in regards to physical activity and nutrition.
The email stated that there would be four focus groups within the County. Each of the groups would consist of 10-12 people. Each group was to meet for 90 minutes.
Of course I accepted!
My focus group met last night. There were three other participants who had been contacted as I had been and there was a County Heath employee who was transcribing the meeting. Our forum moderator was a woman retired from the Minnesota Health Department who is now a consultant. Sherburne County contracted her to moderate these meetings. She did a great job leading our meeting and keeping us on task.
Our whole meeting related to obesity in Sherburne County. We were asked questions relating to our workplace, our neighborhoods, and our community. We were asked the percentage of those obese in our neighborhoods, our workplace our community. We were asked about our surroundings and access to activities. Health clubs, biking trails, gyms, lakes, etc. We were asked about healthy food options-how accessible are they? We were asked if coworkers size/diet/health affected their or our work. We spoke of our family habits, our meals, how income affects diet. Most of the time our discussion turned back to income and education. We discussed obesity topics for a full 90 minutes.
I was asked to think about changes that could change a community. I offered using Sherburne County employers as a drop off for CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture). If the workforce didn’t have to drive to pick up their CSA portion (as I drive to Maple Grove and don’t mind it a bit) more people might participate. I also stated that if our local grocery store, Cobornes, would offer a $5 free fruit/vegetable for every $50 spent it might get some residents to actually try fruits and vegetables.
I kept thinking about the changes that have taken place relating to tobacco use. Who would have thought that you wouldn’t be able to smoke in bars/restaurants just a few years ago? We’ve come a long way.
At the end of the meeting I was asked if I would continue to meet and provide input for the Health Department. Of course I again accepted.
After all of the focus group information is compiled the report will go to the Statewide Health Improvement Program Leadership Team and it is their responsibility to implement strategies specific to Sherburne County Health and Wellness.
SHIP will implement four areas of change: School, Health Care, Worksites and Community; mainly through policy change.
What are some ways that you can think of to change a community towards wellness? Small steps lead to big changes. I’m very excited to be a part of this group.