Martinsville Bulletin, Inc.
P. O. Box 3711
204 Broad Street
Martinsville, Virginia 24115
Toll Free: 800-234-6575
Health improvement goal of area agencies
Monday, October 15, 2012
By PAUL COLLINS - Bulletin Staff Writer
Martinsville-Henry County Family YMCA, Activate Martinsville-Henry County and Piedmont Community Services are three local agencies working to improve health.
“We’re doing a plethora of things,” said Brad Kinkema, executive director of the local YMCA.
In addition to members who use the YMCA’s facilities, Activate Martinsville-Henry County is now part of the YMCA, he said.
Cari Zimmer, director of Activate, stated in an email: “The Bike Barn, which opened for the season April 1, 2012, has seen 2,478 riders who have ridden 21,942 miles on the Dick & Willie Passage. Riders have arrived from all over the country and world — from Nova Scotia, Canada, to Moorpark, Calif., New Zealand, Ireland, Kurdistan and points between. The barn closes Oct. 28 until next April but can be opened upon request for special events.”
The bike barn is a program in which bikes and helmets are available, free of charge, for use on the trail at the Doyle Street trailhead, according to Activate’s website.
In addition to biking, many people walked and ran on the Dick & Willie Trail. “It is highly used,” Kinkema said. He added that the walking trail at the Smith River Sports Complex also is a valuable resource.
“The low-impact walking program on the YMCA track has 164 registered participants,” Zimmer said in the email. “Individuals who are not YMCA members may utilize the indoor suspended track from noon to 1 Mondays through Fridays, free of charge.”
The program is geared toward senior citizens and low-income people, Kinkema said, and participants have to meet certain criteria.
Also, Kinkema said, senior group exercise classes are offered twice a week.
In addition, according to Kinkema and Activate’s website, the Doctor’s Orders program allows people to get a three-month membership at the YMCA for $10 a month with a Doctor’s Orders prescription from a doctor. Rebecca Adcock, wellness director at the YMCA, works with each participant to set up a workout plan and food journal.
Zimmer wrote in an email: “To date just over 60 individuals have participated in the Doctor’s Orders program offered by Activate MHC and the YMCA. Issues addressed include arthritis, high blood pressure, back pain, diabetes and obesity. Many of the program participants have indicated success in attaining health goals set with their physician’s guidance. Anyone is eligible for the prescription program. If their physician does not have the brochures in their office, they may get one from the YMCA and take it to their physician for completion.”
Kinkema said the YMCA offers water aerobics through the Martinsville-Henry County Health and Wellness Coalition at no cost to participants.
Kinkema said the YMCA partners with schools on programs and activities. For instance, Kinkema and Zimmer were at Mount Olivet Elementary School recently for an activity in which children rode bikes, and recently at Collinsville Primary, students walked around the grounds, he said.
With a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant, the YMCA is encouraging children in its after-school programs to eat more fruits and vegetables, Kinkema said.
More than 400 children a day are served in the YMCA’s after-school programs. They are required to do a physical activity, they receive a healthy snack, and staff talks to them about healthful living, Kinkema said.
The Girls on the Run program, which has more than 100 participants this year, stresses self-esteem, healthful eating and physical activity, culminating in a 3.1-mile run/walk. According to Kinkema and a Bulletin article, 36 girls participated in the program last year.
The YMCA also sponsors a variety of races. Kinkema estimated that more than 1,000 people took part in races last year. About 60 of those people, who had never taken part in a 5K (3.1 miles) or half-marathon (13.1 miles), went through a training program of 12 weeks or more.
Another program, Fitness Crew, provides on-site workplace fitness training, according to Kinkema, Zimmer and online information.
“The Fitness Crew program has had over 120 participants at local businesses and schools,” Zimmer wrote in an email. “They have enjoyed on-site classes that include Zumba, yoga, boot camp, kick boxing, aerobics and body sculpting. Any business or school can start their own Fitness Crew. Just contact Activate and a program will be put in place to meet their needs and schedule.”
Kinkema said employers providing places for employees to exercise right after work, so they don’t have to go somewhere else to exercise, promotes physical activity.
The YMCA “wants to be a place leading the charge to be healthy,” he said.
Zimmer said that if people have ideas for programs that would be beneficial, “I would love to hear about them.”
Bonnie Favero, prevention manager at Piedmont Community Services, said the prevention unit has been offering programs in schools for about 20 years. The last few years it has used a program called Too Good for Drugs, which has been proven to lower use of drugs, alcohol and tobacco, and delay onset of use.
That program and similar life-skills training have been offered in schools on and off for about 10 years, depending on available funding. The curriculum is supposed to be offered in kindergarten through eighth grade, she said, adding, “We’ve never had funding to do it at that level.” Locally, the program is offered in grades four and five in Henry County Schools and in grades 4-6 in Martinsville City Schools.
“We have seen good results,” Favero said. “We pre- and post-test kids every year. There’s always a large increase in knowledge and understanding.”
Prevention specialists work part time in local middle and high schools to help students with substance abuse issues and provide education, she said.
Favero said CHILL (Communities Helping Improve Local Lives) and HEY! (Helping Engage Youth) provide education and activities about substance abuse to promote positive choices among young people.
“Another thing that the community is doing to prevent substance abuse, etc., is: Boys and Girls Club, the Y and MHC After 3 ... provide after-school programs for youth and are recognized as excellent drug, gang and pregnancy prevention,” she wrote in an email.
Favero noted that Piedmont Community Services also offers a variety of adult substance abuse services.
Piedmont has a substance abuse community recovery program in which Lisa Smith, the full-time coordinator, helps people in recovery find jobs and housing and assistance with recovery, Favero said.