Health initiative in final year

Healthy People 2010 is making a difference, extension agent says

Nearly 1,000 Moffat County residents are living healthier lifestyles because of the Healthy People 2010 initiative.

They may be only small changes, but that's how a lifestyle change begins, Moffat County Cooperative Extension agent Elisa Shackelton said.

"Just a few simple changes can make a world of difference," she said.

The extension office is one of several partners in the Healthy People 2010 program. In Moffat County, that included a $120,000 Colorado Trust grant to be spent during three years.

Aug. 31 marks the end of three years.

Through the program, more than 2,000 step-counters have been distributed throughout the community, adults gathered once a month to prepare and eat healthy lunches, people have been taught how to shop for healthy foods and make nutritionally sound dietary choices, and fitness activities have been offered in several different venues.

"Obesity is a problem," Shackelton said. "Diets aren't working. People need to come to the realization that they need to change their lifestyle."

Giving people the tools to do that is the primary goal of the Healthy People 2010 initiative.

In the final eight months that grant funds are available, established programs will continue and a few more will be added.

A third round of The Memorial Hospital's "10 Healthy Habits" series begins today and will run from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. each Wednesday for 10 weeks.

"I think this time of year people are ready for it," Shackelton said.

Several people also are working together to make Wednesdays a health-focused day for residents by sponsoring a lunchtime mall walk. Residents can turn in their step totals and add more. Health-care organizations will be invited to set up booths to give out information. Colorado Northwestern Community College-Craig officials are considering offering a fitness class at the same time.

Healthy lunches will be offered once a month at the extension office, and the next such lunch is from noon to 1 p.m. Jan. 19.

Although grant funds are available, residents pay $2 to participate. When the grant funds run out, the program will continue, but the price likely will increase to $5.

"We've been finding a lot of people don't have basic cooking skills," Shackelton said.

She thinks Healthy People 2010 has been successful. Three years ago, few fitness initiatives were available. Now, CNCC offers 26 for-credit fitness classes free of charge to Moffat County residents. The Memorial Hospital offers a nutrition class and the Recreational After-school Doorway provides a variety of physical activities for students.

"I think this program definitely raised the bar and has shown that awareness of fitness and nutrition is a good thing," Shackelton said.

The grant likely will not be renewed, but the programs will continue, though they might be fee-based instead of low cost or free.

"We are hoping a core group of the partners will stay together and look for additional grants to help continue these programs," Shackelton said.

If not, Shackelton always is available to teach nutrition classes or to provide one-on-one assistance, she said.

Program partners include the extension office, The Memorial Hospital, Visiting Nurse Association and Colorado Northwestern Community College-Craig.

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