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A group of Hardin County children was treated to some healthy snacks and outdoor activities, as well as a visit from a prominent Ohioan on Tuesday afternoon in Kenton.
The OSU Extension, Hardin County Family and Consumer Sciences program and Healthy Lifestyles Coalition sponsored “Get Up! Get Out! Get Moving!”, a program for children to take part in different activities and get some exercise.
According to Kathy Oliver, OSU Extension educator, the county was recently selected as one of two Ohio counties in the seven-state grant project called Communities Preventing Childhood Obesity, a program that “empowers rural communities to create environments that support healthy lifestyles for young children.”
“We are looking at, from an environmental point of view, what can we do in Kenton to make it a healthier place for kids,” Oliver said.
Out to experience the program for himself and meet the visiting Hardin County families was Ohio State University President E. Gordon Gee, along with some Ohio State student helpers and the school mascot, Brutus the Buckeye.
After being shown around to many of the different activities, Gee took the microphone and talked to the visiting families about the importance of the project and what the university is doing to focus on state and nationwide wellness.
“What we’re focusing on today is, we’re focusing on health and wellness,” Gee said. “If we can overcome all our challenges – obesity, lack of good eating habits and a variety of other things – then we really start solving America’s problems and Ohio’s problems. Our university is dedicated to that, so what we did is we hired a wonderful person (Bernadette Melnyk) as our Dean of Nursing, but not only that, she’s our chief wellness officer.”
According to Gee, OSU is the first university to “focus on wellness as a part of our culture.”
“It’s not about wellness at Ohio State, it’s about wellness in Ohio, and (Melnyk) has that responsibility,” Gee said.
Melnyk also spoke to the large group of children and adults, explaining to them the importance of making healthy changes in their life.
“I encourage each and every one of us today to make just one change for our health; so many times, (the change) is so big because we try to do too much all at one time,” Melnyk said. “If we don’t do it for us, let’s do it for our children.”
Oliver said that with the help of the four-year grant, the goal is to implement a nutritional and physical activity component in the county.
“Our hope is to involve the community and improve the nutritional status of young children in Hardin County,” she said.
By TY THAXTON
Times staff writer