I was ecstatic to see Cordia School, where I attended from kindergarten all the way through my graduation from high school, receive a national award for the efforts of staff there to form a healthier school for both the students and faculty. I was even more glad to see Dennis Wooton awarded as well as three other schools from the eastern part of the state.
Despite the statistical data that tells us otherwise, these schools and their efforts to get rid of sugary soft drinks, promote fitness and a healthy diet are a testament that even here in eastern Kentucky, with our poverty and our extraction based economy, we can still work for a better quality of life.
People like Jeff Combs, a man I’ve known since we both attended Cordia way back in the 1990s who now heads Cordia’s wellness program, should be commended for their continued efforts to ensure that the students of these schools at the very least have access to information and techniques to live a life where fitness and healthy living are a part of the daily routine.
But despite all of the work people like Jeff have undertaken, we here in eastern Kentucky do have our work cut out for us, because as much as I wish they do, the numbers really don’t lie.
Here in the Kentucky River Area Development District, heart disease, something usually exacerbated by high rates of smoking and obesity, is annually the leading cause of death. The sad thing, though, is that this is an absolutely reversible statistic. It just takes a little bit of fortitude.
There’s always the argument that poor health is usually tied to an impoverished populace. It certainly seems that way, and the stats back it up. But it hardly costs money to not smoke. In fact, not smoking is much more cheaper than smoking. It also doesn’t cost money not to intake too many more calories than your body will burn in a day. It doesn’t cost money to make the decision to live a healthier lifestyle.
That’s why people like Jeff Combs will play a more important role in the future of eastern Kentucky that perhaps they even realize. These people are planting the seeds of healthy living that I hope can grow and flourish in the years to come.