Having reported extensively over the past decade on a number of health issues facing Eastern Kentucky, the news can be quite discouraging at times.
One recent story seemed to be the final nail in the coffin, so to speak. While people in the rest of the country are living longer lives, Floyd County had the 10th-steepest drop in life expectancy from 1999 to 2009. Of the nine counties with worse drops, four were in Eastern Kentucky.
This week, however, we are happy to report on new way to work on possibly reversing that trend. Foundation for a Health Kentucky announced Monday its “Investing in Kentucky’s Future” grant program, which offers local communities the opportunity to apply for grants ranging from $20,000 to $40,000 to pay for health initiatives for school-aged children.
“Our goal is to help communities make positive changes that will help children start and sustain healthy habits to last a lifetime,” said Susan Zepeda, CEO of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky. “Whether the challenge is access to needed routine medical check-ups, safe places to play or nutritious foods, or caring adults to show ways to communicate and avoid risky behaviors, we want to help communities find new pathways to positive solutions.”
This is exactly the sort of program local leaders need to explore. Eastern Kentucky, as we have pointed out over and over, has some of the worst health statistics of any region in the country. Local residents have some of the highest rates of obesity, smoking, heart disease, diabetes, cancer and depression, and the number of people who get regular exercise trails the rest of the country.
A large part of the problem can be attributed to lifestyle, and programs like Investing in Kentucky’s Future can help change that by encouraging our children to develop and sustain healthy habits.
Every city, county, school system and board of health in Eastern Kentucky needs to develop proposals to compete for this program. If they don’t, taxpayers should ask them why they are content to let our children live shorter lives.
— The Floyd County Times