March 26-27, 2011

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$1 million grant to fight Ulster obesity

ELLENVILLE – Ulster County Executive Michael Hein was joined by Cornell Cooperative Extension Executive Director Lydia Reidy and others Friday at the Ellenville Public Library to announce a $1.01 million grant award for the Creating Healthy Places to Live, Work, and Play initiative to combat obesity and obesity related health issues starting with three communities in Ulster County.

Hein said that the best way to create healthy places in every community is by impacting the people. Through the county’s partnership with Cornell Cooperative Extension, this grant money will be used to make families’ lives better in the region beginning in Ellenville, Phoenicia, and Kingston, he said.

The money has not been awarded to fix things like infrastructure and streets, but rather to reach out into the community to incubate healthier lifestyles, said Reidy.

“This grant is really to build community strengths in what we have already available that make our communities more livable, more walkable, get people more active and involved in different kinds of community activities that will benefit all of the residents here,” she said.

Ulster County Public Health Director Dr. La Mar Hasbrouck explained how obesity is directly linked to diabetes and that more and more young people are being diagnosed with diabetes because of their obesity.

He said that with the grant money, they hope to shift away from informational campaigns and start moving towards creating environments, in schools for example, that facilitate healthy living styles.

“We’ll be doing some things around healthy snacking in schools, looking at vending machines with sugary drinks and things like that, again changing the environment. A kid is not going to grab a soda when the only thing in the vending machine is water,” said Dr. Hasbrouck.

Educating parents is just as important, he said, and money from this grant award will also be put towards teaching families how to shop, cook healthy, and provide proper nutrition.

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