Report: Ga. making gains in family wellness

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Walk Across Baldwin

Walk Across Baldwin
Baldwin County Family Connection and area schools and wellness groups partnered for a five-mile Walk Across Baldwin in an effort to promote wellness in the Harrisburg community.

Georgia is making gains nationally in improving wellness for children and families, according to a recent poll.

In an effort to improve the well-being of children and families in Georgia, organizations such as Georgia Family Connection and local affiliates implement health-based initiatives into the community.

“The partnerships our private and public sectors have forged are taking us in the right direction,” stated Gaye Smith, executive director of Georgia Family Connection Partnership.

A recent poll revealed that Georgia has jumped two spots to No. 40 in the National Ranking of Child and Family Well-Being.

Although the efforts made in the state to promote health and wellness in families are improving, officials say more than 1 in 4 Georgia’s kids still struggle to get basic necessities to live healthy and productive lives.

To combat the issue, organizations such as Baldwin County Family Connection partner with area schools and wellness groups to create health and fitness initiatives.

“We’ve been working together with groups like Live Healthy Baldwin for a while to start a series of events and programs in the area to get families more interested in getting healthy. We think it’s important for families — especially kids, to be more active,” said Janet Cavin, Baldwin Family Connection coordinator.

In January, the two groups sponsored a five-mile walk, Walk Across Baldwin, which started at the Collins P. Lee Center and ended at the Sallie Davis House on Georgia College’s campus.

The purpose of the 5K was to give people in the Harrisburg community an opportunity to exercise.

“With so many cases of heart disease and diabetes showing up in Harrisburg, we decided to start the 5K walk at Collins P. Lee Center. It’s a location that’s nearby and easy to get to,” Cavin said.

Baldwin Family Connection also partners with local schools and educational groups.

“We support two afterschool programs for underprivileged children at two locations in Baldwin County. We just felt there was a need for those children to have a safe place to be after school where they can get a healthy snack, tutoring, and feel as if they are protected,” she said.

Baldwin Family Connection holds afterschool programs at Milledgeville Housing Authority’s Wray Homes and the Collins P. Lee Center.

Another way in which the organization helps students in need is through the Blessing Bags program.

With the Blessing Bags program, Baldwin County Family Connection aims to keep the stomachs of underprivileged students full on weekends with the help of area organizations and churches.

“We partner with three different churches for Blessing Bags, and because of the partnership we were able to provide 350 kids a healthy snack last year every Friday afternoon.”

Family Connection groups also work to help adults to get educated in order to gain employment.

“What is so troubling about employment in post-recession Georgia is that too many of the newly created jobs pay low wages with benefits that fail to meet even basic family expenses. At Georgia Family Connection, we invest heavily in quality early care and education efforts for adults,” Smith said.

Through Baldwin Family Connection’s partnership with Communities in Schools and Central Georgia Technical College, they are able to provide parents with help in getting their GEDs.

“We provide the funds toward the testing fees for the GED program. We’d hate to see something like financial difficulties stopping a parent from getting their GED and giving themselves the opportunity to hold a better paying job for their family,” Cavin said.

To learn more about programs and initiatives provided by Baldwin Family Connection call 478-457-2000.

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Read the Georgia Family Connection Partnership release.

Georgia Family Connection is a statewide network with a Collaborative in all 159 counties.