Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

September 25, 2013

Step Up & Scale Down: Weight loss program wins award

Jo Anne Embleton
Jacksonville Daily Progress

CHEROKEE COUNTY — A 12-week “Step Up & Scale Down” healthy living program developed through the Texas AgriLife Extension program has taken top honors at this year's “Galaxy Conference” of extension professionals, held in Pittsburgh, Penn.

Cherokee County Extension Agent Wendi Green, who attended the Sept. 16-20 event with agent Patrice Dunagin of Smith County, said that according to conference organizers, the award “recognizes innovative programs that promote and improve the health and wellness of families.”

Excited about garnering top place in the “Family Health & Wellness” category, Green said the accolades “add a legitimacy to the program, because it's being recognized by our peers and professionals who reviewed it, and (they've said it is) a worthwhile program to implement within a community.”

An estimated 2,900 attendees from throughout the nation, as well as those from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, were at the conference, which Green described as a “joint-council” gathering of extension professionals held every five years.

“When we had our poster presentation, people came by and talked with us about the program and how to implement it in their communities. What they were really happy about was that the program addresses nutrition, health and fitness” in one package, she said.

“Step Up & Scale Down” was developed by Green and a group of six Texas AgriLife extension agents from Smith, Bell, Navarro, Bowie and Red River Counties in 2011, in response to national surveys on obesity.

The USDA-based program began last January in Rusk and Jacksonville, attracting approximately 50 participants and creating such enthusiasm that a spin-off class, called “Monthly Cooking with Friends,” was created Green said.

The class – which met for the first time Tuesday evening – will be held monthly and is open to individuals interested in learning healthy recipes as they give each other moral support in their weight loss journeys.

“Step Up & Scale Down has been extremely successful in Cherokee County – most people don't even miss a class because they're so excited about the program,” Green said, adding that the new class “was a very pleasant surprise, knowing that they were so excited about the program and the people they met, they wanted to form a new group.”

To learn more about “Step Up & Scale Down” program (which start at the first of the year) or the “Monthly Cooking with Friends” classes, contact Green at the Cherokee County extension office at 903-683-5416 or wgreen@ag.tamu.edu for more information, or visit http://cherokee.agrilife.org/, under the tab for “Wendi Green” for registration materials.