There seems to be a movement going on here in Perry County, and it’s one that we can certainly get behind.
With local groups like the Pathfinders of Perry County, the Breathe Easy Coalition, and now the Perry County Wellness Coalition being formed and remaining vocal, we’re hopeful that a trend toward a healthier community is beginning.
And for our community, it couldn’t come at a better time.
Here in Eastern Kentucky, of which Perry County serves as a hub for other counties, the health statistics are alarming. Our people are at or near the top in several key health indicators, including rates of smoking, obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.
A 2010 study by the Foundation for a Healthier Kentucky notes that heart disease is the biggest cause of death in both men and women in the Kentucky River region. Respondents to the study noted that cost is a determining factor in purchasing healthy foods, and fewer than 28 percent of the people in our region live in areas with sidewalks or shoulders that allow for safe walking or biking.
In short, we’re an unhealthy region, and we don’t have a lot of opportunity to correct that in terms of infrastructure.
That’s where a wellness center could change things, and that’s something on which the Perry County Wellness Coalition is working. They caution that their work is merely preliminary at this time, but we’re excited about the possibilities that such a center can represent.
Les Roll, with the coalition, led a meeting last week at the Perry County Public Library to gauge community interest in such a project and what sorts of things people would like a local wellness center to include.
Frankly, we’d like to see a centrally-located center full of state-of-the-art equipment and space for classes like Zumba, martial arts, and aerobics. We’d like to see a center accessible to young and old alike.
We’re also cognizant, however, of the funds needs for such a center, and the difficulty in attaining such funds. We’re also concerned about how such a center would be made self-sufficient.
But despite the cost factor, this is a project well worth the undertaking, because of all the aspects of life health is the most important. Without our health, we have little indeed, and too many of our people have been living with too little for too long.
We applaud the coalition for at the very least bringing the issue of wellness to the forefront, and we hope others will hear the call and join the chorus.