Granville and Vance are adjacent counties located in the Northern Piedmont region of North Carolina. Both counties benefit from the leadership of the Granville-Vance District Health Department and both have reported declining childhood obesity rates. The health department contributes to a number of projects to help make it easier for families and children to make healthy choices and while most of them are small-scale efforts, collectively they’ve made a difference.
- In 2004, the health department started an employee wellness program to encourage healthy eating and physical activity. The department actively promoted its program to other local worksites and in 2012, began working with faith groups and other partners to use a similar model.
- In 2007, the health department partnered with the state’s Department of Health and Human Services on a social marketing campaign in Vance to help promote physical activity among kids ages 8 to 12. In 2008, the department launched the PLAY Mobile program in Vance, providing a mobile playground to five elementary schools that had no dedicated indoor space for physical education.
- The health department has implemented dozens of activities as part of its mini-grant projects with Eat Smart, Move More NC in 2008–2009 and 2009–2010. It helped Northern Granville Middle School implement a program that encourages students to engage in vigorous activity during gym classes. It also worked with the Oxford Parks and Recreation Department to create a policy that requires concessions stands to offer healthy snacks and drinks. Other grants targeted churches, hospitals and worksites.
- Granville County adopted a master greenway plan in 2006 and installed the first trail in 2008. Granville planners have leveraged about $7.5 million in funds since the master plan was written and nearly 8 miles of trail are planned, under construction or completed.
There also has been progress in reducing overweight and obesity among preschoolers from low-income families in both counties. A 2013 report shows that the rate of overweight and obesity among 2- to 4-year-olds enrolled in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program dropped by 11.6 percent in Granville and 8.9 percent in Vance from 2007 to 2011.
Since reporting the declines in obesity rates, both counties remain committed to making healthier choices the easier choices for residents.
- Working together, a local Y, the Henderson Junior Woman’s Club and the health department offer the Girls on the Run Program to more than 150 students in grades 3 through 8. The program offers an interactive running curriculum that inspires self-respect and promotes healthy lifestyles.
- Through its Keys to Healthy Living program, the Granville-Vance Faith Initiative for Community Action has inspired more than 10 local churches to designate a health minister to promote wellness within the congregation. Some churches also have adopted new policies to encourage healthy behaviors.
- Using funds from the Community Transformation Grant awarded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the counties have installed approximately 50 high visibility cross walks to make roads safer for pedestrians and bicyclists.
- Vance County also opened a new regional farmers’ market in 2014 and plans to begin accepting benefits from federal health and nutrition programs to help increase access to fresh produce among lower-income families.