Coalition addresses children’s health

By Marilyn Peters

Walterboro community leaders have formed a coalition to promote healthy lifestyles for children and their families by improving dietary choices and increasing physical activity. Led by Clemson Extension and FitLife, Colleton Medical Center’s fitness center, the group seeks to prevent weight problems and related chronic diseases.

Called the Coalition Organized to Address Children’s Health (COACH), participants include school teachers and administrators, diet and fitness experts, community members, students from K-12, the local news media, and representatives from Clemson Extension, South Carolina State University Extension, S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control, S.C. Department of Social Services, Lowcountry Area Health Education Center, and Colleton Recreation Center.

“COACH members are distributing educational materials to parents, speaking to Parent-Teacher Organizations and training older students to coach younger ones,” said Marilyn Peters, Clemson Extension agent for Colleton County and a coalition leader. “They’re also promoting increased physical activity for students through noncompetitive sports and activities, walking trails and special events.”

One of the coalition’s primary goals is to improve the nutrition environment, particularly at schools. Efforts include healthier snacks and beverages in vending machines and concession stands and breakfast for all K-12 students in Walterboro.

“As a result of COACH projects and collaborations, we’re seeing a new and heartening interest in healthy lifestyles and healthy environments for children in this community,” said Stacey Price, FitLife instructor and a coalition leader.

The group was formed as a result of the Children and Weight Summit held in 2003 by Clemson University, the University of South Carolina, the Medical University of South Carolina and South Carolina State University.

For more information: Marilyn Peters