09/11/13 — Group kicks off effort to improve county health

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Group kicks off effort to improve county health

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on September 11, 2013 1:46 PM

A car accident two years ago left Sonja Summerville temporarily sidelined and out of work.

"The only thing I did for that entire year was to eat, watch Lifetime and just sit on the couch," she said.

It all caught up with her, though, and it wasn't until a doctor's wake-up call that she decided to make some changes. Her physician said she was "obese" and borderline for heart disease and high blood pressure, Ms. Summerville said.

She got up off that couch, changed her eating habits and began walking and exercising more.

"I started off at 225 and July 31 of this year I was actually down to 180 pounds," she told an audience gathered Tuesday night at the Paramount Theatre for the launch of GoWayneGo, a community-wide initiative to promote healthier habits.

Her success story is reflective of many that are possible in Wayne County, says Casey Chudy, coordinator of the multi-agency effort.

Wayne County residents need to be alert to the need to change the county's "very scary statistics," she said -- that 72 percent of its population is overweight or obese and that more than 32 percent of adults 20 and older report no physical activity or exercise.

"This probably is a gigantic door that needs to be knocked down," she said. "It's time that Wayne County collectively, Wayne County as a whole, kicks down that door so we can all see what a healthy county looks like."

Health Director Davin Madden said the statistics may seem like "just some numbers" but they represent family, friends, co-workers.

"I want you to understand the seriousness of what we're facing in the country and what's impacting us here in Wayne County," he said. "We have got to be more physically active. We have got to eat better."

In the works for several months, agencies backing the project are Goldsboro Pediatrics, Goldsboro Parks and Recreation, the YMCA, N.C. Cooperative Extension, WATCH, Wayne County Health Department, Wayne Memorial Hospital, Seymour Johnson AFB, WISH, United Way, Wayne County Chamber of Commerce and Wayne County Public Schools.

"This is called an emerging collaboration," Madden said. "We're not going to map it out and give this a direction. It's a new approach to an old process of collaboration. We set our destination as we go."

Mrs. Chudy said the concept was designed with such flexibility because it's important for the residents themselves to also be part of creating it.

"This will not be a success if it's not community driven," she told the audience. "We haven't presented to you a complete product. We didn't want to present a complete product. What do you want to see this program do for you?"

At Tuesday evening's event, and another one held this morning, the public was encouraged to take the pledge -- to lose at least 10 pounds, with the aim of having 1 million pounds lost by the community by May 2015; and to weigh in and offer input on suggestions for educational classes to be offered.

"What I'm trying to do is find out what kind of things the consumer needs to get them in the program," said Christine Smith, N.C. Cooperative Extension Agent for Wayne County, who had a table set up with information and resources, like a walking journal and food journal for participants to keep on track.

Shiril Worrell, Nancy Harrell and Doug Marshburn were among those at the event already decked out in the campaign's fluorescent green shirts broadcasting the "GoWayneGo" message. Members of Mrs. Smith's "Fit and Fabulous" weekly exercise group at the Wayne Center, they said they were excited about the mass effort.

Ms. Worrell said she was looking forward to "just being fit, losing weight, being active in the community."

"We're like one big family," Marshburn said of the group, although he had one request. "I wish there were more men in Fit and Fabulous. There's only four."

An estimated crowd of 100 turned out for the initial session, but Mrs. Chudy said there will be other opportunities to sign up and get involved. In addition to future meetings planned for Oct. 24 and Dec. 29, the group plans to be a presence at the upcoming Wayne County Fair and the public can also register on the website, www.GOWAYNEGO.org, and follow along on Facebook.