Excerpt from Lessons for Leaders:
As part of a rebranding process, LiveWell Greenville (LWG) held a retreat with diverse stakeholders to develop a strategic action plan for the county. LWG conducted multidirectional communication across eight work groups, provided strategy-specific capacity-building training to community members and stakeholders, and communicated progress through a website, social media outlets, e-digests, and presentations as well as more traditional media. LWG’s most effective communications and advocacy approach was to highlight the work of its many diverse partners.
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As its name suggests, Greenville County offers a gentle, verdant landscape nestled near the Blue Ridge Mountains. The county boasts nearly 2,000 acres of parks, ten community centers, sports leagues and many open-air farmers markets. In 2009, when Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities (HKHC) started, the YMCA of Greenville, the Greenville Hospital System and Furman University were engaged in a comprehensive healthy living program aimed at preventing obesity. In spite of their collective efforts, more than 40 percent of children in the county were overweight or obese, with African Americans and Latinos disproportionately affected.
Faced with the reality of this disparity, Activate Greenville, a partnership anchored by the YMCA, applied for a HKHC grant to create partnerships in three low-income communities: Sterling, Nicholtown and Berea. While all quite different, they shared many of the same challenges and demographics which made them especially vulnerable to obesity.
In January 2011, LiveWell Greenville (LWG) was launched – an outgrowth of the work that had begun with Activate Greenville. Driven by the need for advocacy and policy development across eight defined areas of focus, this partnership of dozens of public and private organizations worked to make Greenville County a healthier place to live, work and play.
Some of their key accomplishments include:
- In partnership with the Nicholtown community and Upstate Forever, a Safe Routes to School grant from State Farm was awarded to improve infrastructure
and way-finding signage between the school and the community.
- The Nicholtown Spinners Youth Cycling Club engaged youth in weekly bicycle
rides, exposing them to opportunities for active living, healthy eating, employment, art and music. The group also promoted mock bills pertaining to opportunities for active transportation and access to healthy foods at the State House.
- Development of a master plan for a local business corridor in the Sterling Community is underway which should result in street improvements and new sidewalks.
- A Bike Share Station was installed at the Sterling Community Center, one of six stations that are projected for the Bike Share Program in Greenville County.
- LWG received a $1.95 million from the Community Transformation Grant Small Communities Program. The two years of funding will expand LWG’s initiatives in school and out-of-school settings.
- The City of Greenville instituted a policy change incorporating healthy snacks in all city-sponsored after school programs in 2012.
- LWG partnered with 23 local out-of-school time providers to create healthy environments. Participating OST sites have signed memorandums of understanding agreeing to implement environmental and policy changes to promote healthy eating and active living.
“Sustainable change has to come from within the communities and neighborhoods, rather than the outside,” LWG Program Director, Eleanor Dunlap said. “We will do this one neighborhood at a time, creating a movement.”