EKY program shining positive light on Appalachia

By: Michelle Heron Email
By: Michelle Heron Email

PINEVILLE, Ky. (WYMT) When it comes to health, Appalachia typically falls short.

“We have a lot of issues with chronic diseases,” Microclinic Program Coordinator Leigh Ann Baker said.

Diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

“We’ve all been raised to eat a lot of high fat foods,” Baker added.

But the Bell County Health Department is working to change that, through an initiative called ‘Spread the Health Appalachia.’

“We know that prevention is cheaper, obviously than the problem,” Baker said.

It’s called the Microclinic Program and teaches people that simple changes make a big difference.

“We want people to get healthier from the inside out. We want them to eat fresh fruits and vegetables, we want them to exercise, we want them to increase their water intake,” Baker said.

“They’re taught how easy it is to change from 2% milk to 1% milk, how easy it is to change from white bread to whole wheat products,” Baker said, “Coca-Cola has 16.25 teaspoons of sugar. So you’re mainly drinking your calories when you do this. This is all stuff we actually teach in class.”

“You don't have to join a gym for $50 a month, you can just get on a nice beautiful walking trail that we have in the Cumberland Valley area and walk three or four times a week for 30 minutes,” Baker added.

Program coordinators say 95% of participants from Bell County saw long term improvements and the group is now expanding that program across the state.

“We found health can be contagious. Good health can be contagious. Just like bad health can be contagious,” Baker added.

An initiative that is giving Appalachia something to be proud of.

Coordinators are looking for people who are interested in bringing the Microclinic Program to their community. Training is free.

If you’re interested or would like more information, contact Leigh Ann Baker at 606-337-9076 Ext. 23 or e-mail: leigha.baker@ky.gov.

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