by Ana-Alicia Gouge
The LSU AgCenter partnered with the Town of Ferriday to create a Healthy Communities Coalition to improve the lives of residents in relation to health and wellness. This coalition is working together to discuss and address issues surrounding lack of healthcare access, transportation issues, cleanliness of the town, and ways to increase community physical activity. Concordia Parish Library joined this partnership to provide a StoryWalk to the Town of Ferriday in effort to increase literacy and physical activity!
According to the latest figures available from the Louisiana Department of Health, 35% of Concordia Parish adult residents suffer from obesity. 35.9% of Louisiana’s children also suffer from obesity. Concordia Parish shows higher rates of obesity and heart disease than the state average, which could be due to a lack of places to purchase food, walkable areas, and a lack of adequate healthcare in the area. The Healthy Communities Coalition discussed bringing in Health Fairs, Walkable events and activities, and redoing an area of town to create a recreational area for youth. The coalition held a community forum and several meetings to discuss immediate projects and how to carry out projects in the long term. The coalition discussed partnering with local churches and businesses to aid in these projects. The coalition and community members expressed the need to hold health fairs, connect residents to services in the area, and to bring in education and healthful cooking classes and food workshops. The coalition has established quarterly health fairs by partnering with insurance groups and local medical resources. The Town of Ferriday is also working with the garden club to create a walkable space and revamping playground equipment in town. The AgCenter and Healthy Communities was able to partner with the Concordia Parish Library system to bring in a StoryWalk for the residents in Ferriday. The StoryWalk was placed in a highly visible area in town to encourage residents to “walk the block” and read.
Residents have stated that the health fairs will be helpful as we are able to provide information on preventative care by bringing in pre cancer screenings and diabetic education. We have also received encouragement from the town to continue the StoryWalk and will continue to change out stories in relation to holidays. A community forum will be held every other month to discuss progress on projects and continued work in the town.
The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture