Wednesday, September 17, 2014

GRU announces plans for community partnership aimed at healthy lifestyles

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Georgia Regents University has announced plans to partner with community organizations in an effort to make Augusta and the surrounding area a healthier place to live.

The Healthy Augusta initiative will be aimed at increasing opportunities for people in the area to engage in healthy lifestyle practices, like physical activity, a nutritious diet, greater access to food, and living in a smoke-free environment. A meeting to discuss strategies and how to best partner with community groups is planned from 10 a.m. to noon Friday, Dec. 13 at the Jaguar Student Activities Center Ballroom on the GRU Summerville campus.

The initiative is based on a multi-level approach to community health, said GRU Senior Vice President for Research Mark Hamrick.

“In order to best understand people’s health behaviors and choices, we know we have to approach the issue on many different levels,” he said. “For example, we have to look at them as individuals, at their interpersonal relationships, where they go to school, and what community they come from. And then we must affect healthy public policies that consider all of that.”

Based on that approach, Healthy Augusta will aim to partner with a variety of public health sectors, like schools, clinics, and faith-based institutions to encourage people to live a healthier lifestyle, Hamrick added.

Through its Institute of Public and Preventive Health, GRU will also provide four $25,000 grants to fund Healthy Augusta Community-Academic Partnerships – research projects that encourage participation between the people living and working in the area and the academic community. Priority will be given to projects that address health disparities such as race and ethnicity, access to health care, geography, socioeconomic status, and gender.

“Ultimately, our goal is to assist in developing the infrastructure for Healthy Augusta by implementing effective interventions, conducted across the lifespan through a variety of community sectors,” said Dr. Selina Smith, Director of the IPPH.

Applications for grants will be accepted through Feb. 1, 2014. For guidelines and available resources, contact Nicholas Tarver, ntarver@gru.edu or (706) 721-2655.