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Harrison County selected for health program

Thanks to a program supported by Purdue and Indiana universities, Harrison County will receive consulting help regarding the health of its residents.
Carol Price, the consultant who plans to help initiate the Community Health Engagement Program, visited the Harrison County Board of Commissioners Monday morning, June 1, and also led a program luncheon later that day in the Government Center.
‘Health is everyone’s job,’ Price said.
Price worked the same program in her home county of Clinton with strong results. Tobacco use in the county was reduced by 4 percent and improved from 51st to 31st in the state for health outcomes.
Price was hired by the universities to do the same with four other counties throughout the state, one of which is Harrison.
Price said the only factors that were revealed to her that qualified Harrison County is it is at least 50 percent rural and has a population of less than 50,000.
Price said she’ll teach some things that Clinton County did and see if it helps.
She said they were able to secure approximately $1 million worth of grant dollars for health initiatives the past three years in her home county.
‘Health comes from everything,’ Price said, including socio-economy, education, city planning etc.
One detrimental factor to health in the United States is the need for convenience with drive-thru fast food restaurants, subdivisions built with no sidewalks and schools being moved to the outskirts of town.
Specific to Harrison County, Price said many of the health statistics are great, including the high school graduation rate.
‘Some don’t think about that playing with health,’ she said. ‘But the more they’re educated, the less likely they’ll smoke and more likely they’ll eat right.’
Price said Harrison County has a 13-percent smoking rate, which is so good she said she’d like to know how that figure came about.
The obesity percentage is 34 percent. Price said all counties in Indiana have more than a 30-percent rate. Twenty-eight percent of adults report no physical activity, she said.
The plan, she said, is to bring together schools, school boards, nurses, government officials and business owners to the table to talk about community health.
‘That’s how we did it,’ she said.
Price said commissioners need a prosperous county, the economic director and business leaders want a healthy workforce and elected officials want to do something positive to get re-elected.
‘You want a community young people want to come back to … and seems progressive and fits the needs of their children,’ Price said.
She said a complete streets ordinance is something the county may want to consider.
Complete streets are those for everyone, designed and operated to enable safe access for all users.
Price said she’ll be available to coach those who are already working on healthy community initiatives and, eventually, she’ll led a charge to hopefully secure grants.
‘There’s a lot available if it’s used for health,’ she said. ‘Health is the new buzz word.’
Commissioner George Ethridge mentioned the Indian Creek Trail and the needed funding to complete ‘ and connect ‘ the trail with a relocated, refurbished bridge.
Price said that project is definitely the type she’d like to be a part of.
She said Harrison County has beautiful amenities and she loves to drive through the county. She said Clinton County is so flat a person can see from one end of the county to the other.
‘If the corn’s not too high,’ she added.
State legislation may also play a role in helping communities become more healthy, she said, specifically mentioning that schools are no longer liable for the general public and can now open up their facilities.
‘That opens up a big opportunity for a lot of great equipment,’ she said.
Price said the other counties she’s working with are Gibson, Carroll and Steuben.
‘So, I’m doing a lot of driving, seeing Indiana.’
Harrison County Purdue Extension Educator Annette Lawler is the local contact for the project.
Price also led a discussion in the conference center at noon for the general public and county employees.