Lotts Creek Community School began its wellness education program only weeks ago, and staff at the school say they are looking to increase awareness about the program in local communities.
“The overall idea is outreach to bring folks in for health and wellness,” said Lotts Creek Community School Director Alice Whitaker, who secured a grant for the program through Health Resources and Service Administration.
The program is housed in the Cordia School on Lotts Creek, just a mile from the Perry County border, and will serve residents from both Knott and Perry Counties. And with high incidences of diabetes, heart disease, and smoking in the eastern region of Kentucky, Whitaker said she thinks access to health care is a key to helping people get healthy. And it’s that access this program aims to help with.
“Access is a problem,” she said. “I think we would consider it (the program) as a gate keeper to try to get folks in for health care.”
While the program won’t offer on-site health care to individuals, staff can make referrals to local health care facilities for medical, dental, and mental health issues, and also programs to help people kick drug addiction, noted program Coordinator Jeff Combs.
The program also looks to tackle other health problems such as obesity by offering an on-site fitness room with new exercise equipment and programs aimed at providing information on nutrition and diabetes. A personal trainer will also be working three evenings on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday each week to help provide guidance on losing weight and becoming more physically fit.
Lotts Creek Community School already offers a medical assistance program that helps more than 90 local residents obtain much needed medication, and Whitaker noted that this new wellness program is an extension of that sort of outreach into the community.
Currently the program is able to offer referrals for people seeking low cost medical and dental care through program partner University of Kentucky North Fork Valley Community Health Center, noted Combs. Other partners include the Kentucky River District Health Department, Area Health Education Center, the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, and the Hazard ARH.
The program will also offer an employee wellness program for staff and faculty at Cordia School in which teachers have the option of using half of their planning period to use the exercise equipment or walk.
Combs noted that the employee program is an important part of the overall scheme, because as the teachers are motivated to become more healthy the students could follow suit.
The program is also boosted through another partner, the Knott County Extension Office, as Linda Combs will be conducting healthy living seminars and other programs aimed at providing information. The program will also host a women’s night every Tuesday as well that will also offer free child care.
A large part of community outreach is getting to know the community, Combs continued, and he plans to begin meeting with people who are already receiving help through the medicine program in an effort to spread the word that more help is in the community if it is needed.
“We’re here, and we can help anybody that wants to lose weight or has diabetes, or obesity problems,” said Combs. “If we can do it here in-house we’ll have people or special programs helping people manage diabetes or lose weight, or smoking cessation.”
The wellness program is free of charge and the only requirement to use the equipment is to sign a waiver.
Overall, Whitaker noted that she believes the program will become something other rural areas will be able to look to and follow as well.
“I feel like we’re going to be a model, an absolute model that can be replicated in other rural areas in the country,” said Whitaker.
For more information on the program call 606-785-5282.