Bartow Health and Wellness Initiative takes shape

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To help Bartow residents "feel better and live longer, happier lives," Hannah Surrett is helping spearhead the Health and Wellness Initiative.

"Health and wellness is a topic that I have had a growing interest [in] over the past few years," said Surrett, marketing and promotions coordinator for the Cartersville Downtown Development Authority. "However, what pushed me to actually work towards change was the … [Marjory] Stoneman Douglas High School shooting [in Parkland, Florida] in February of 2018. Witnessing this tragedy happen to a community not much different than Cartersville, made me want to do what I can [to] prevent anything like this from happening here.

"From there, I started trying to work towards building a program that improved the physical and mental health of Cartersville/Bartow County. Fortunately for me — because something like this is a big undertaking and I could not do this on my own — the Bartow County [Cooperative] Extension Office got wind that the Downtown Development Authority was working on a Health and Wellness Initiative, and they wanted to help. From there, we connected and decided to join forces, and the Health and Wellness Initiative as you know it was created." 

With the initiative in the early stages of development, Surrett and Alexis Roberts — family and consumer sciences agent for the Bartow County Cooperative Extension Office — are encouraging area residents to help shape its direction.

"The purpose of the initiative is to improve the health of Bartow County by providing more community resources, events and educational programs," Roberts said. "Bartow County has a significantly higher rate of obesity, diabetes prevalence and physical inactivity than the state average, which all profoundly influences quality of life. Addressing these challenges cannot be tackled by one organization alone. As they say, it takes a village. Coming together and combining resources is going to be essential to moving the needle and creating lasting change.

"As the coalition continues to develop, community participation will be so important. Currently, we are in the process of finding out what the community wants and needs through an anonymous health survey. The survey takes about 2 [to] 3 minutes to complete and will help provide direction for our efforts. The survey can be completed online at this link — https://bit.ly/2TKxym9 — or in person at the Bartow County Extension office. The link will also be posted on the Downtown Cartersville Facebook and Instagram accounts." 

Echoing Roberts' comments, Surrett also is urging the public to take part in the survey.

"This Health and Wellness Initiative is still growing and taking shape, so we're not sure what it will entail just yet," Surrett said. "The overall goal is to empower the citizens of Bartow County to better their health through education, events, incentives, etc., but the coalition has not set strategic goals yet. We are currently in an information gathering phase so we can see where our efforts will be best directed.

"This is where we need the community's help," she said, referring to the online survey. "… Getting a sample size large enough to be indicative of the Bartow County community is vital to gearing our programming and goals in the right direction. … While my initial reasoning for pursuing this initiative was based in mental health, I have learned that things, such as exercise, eating healthy, music, meditation, hobbies, human connection and more all improve mental health. I want the citizens of Bartow County [to] feel better and live longer, happier lives. Unfortunately, those things aren't trackable, so [if] I were to measure the outcomes of this [initiative] over the coming 10 years or so, I would hope … [to see] an overall trend of lower blood pressure and BMI."

For more information, email Roberts at roberts9@uga.edu or Surrett at hsurrett@downtowncartersville.org.