Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

March 13, 2013

HEALTH: FitCOUNTY event moves to athletic complex, large turnout anticipated

Jo Anne Embleton
Jacksonville Daily Progress

CHEROKEE COUNTY — By changing the venue of an April 6 health and fitness event to the Jacksonville Athletic Complex during opening day of baseball and soccer season, a greater number of lives could be impacted, said a FitCounty Cherokee leader.

Cherokee County Public Health Executive Director Chris Taylor, part of a steering committee hoping to encourage local residents to live in a more healthy manner, called the move a positive one, saying “anytime you can work together with the community, the result is always much better.”

The event is generating excitement in the community, he added.

“Our Facebook page has been abuzz as have my email accounts,” Taylor said. “There is no real way to know how many attendees there will be, (though) obviously, the opening of spring baseball will provide us the opportunity to reach many people.”

The free event will be held from 9 a.m. to noon at the local complex, located at 1923 Byrd Road.

About a dozen vendor booths have committed to “Day in the Park,” including those of H.O.P.E., the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Office, the Cherokee County Master Gardeners, Cherokee County Public Health, the East Texas Food Coalition, East Texas Medical Center, and Trinity Mother Frances Hospitals and Clinics, among others.

In addition, the Cherokee County Medical Society will distribute free bicycle helmets, while the Jacksonville Fire Department will promote water safety by distributing free life preservers.

Local Fire Marshall Dennis Tate said several years ago, the city began a “Kids Don't Float” program in which lifejackets of different sizes were taken to the concession stand at Lake Jacksonville for people to use during summertime visits.

He estimates about 100 jackets of various sizes are set out each season, which kicks off Memorial Day weekend.

“We hang them out there on the board, so that anybody who goes swimming – adults, kids – who needs a life jacket, that's what they're there for,” Tate said.

Events like “Day in the Park” will help raise even greater awareness of water safety, he added.

“We love this program, and we don't mind” putting out the jackets, even if some end up going home with swimmers, he said. “As long as they use them, and people are keeping safe, that's fine.”

Also planned during the April 6 event is a container gardening demonstration by Cherokee County Extension Agent Kim Benton, “to show people that it's easier to garden than they think,” she said.

If a spot is partly shaded, one can grow herbs, while if full sun is available, “you can do kinds of garden vegetables,” she said.

Benton and representatives from the Lone Star Military Farm Group hope to have spots close to each other so that as people pick up plants from the farmers' booth, they can swing buy the county extension agency booth to learn how to incorporate them into containers for easy gardening.

“A kind of 'here's how you can make it work for yourself,'” she said.

The motto of FitCounty Cherokee – which launched last September – is “empowering and encouraging healthy lifestyles one person at a time” through exercise, education and healthy eating.

“We are excited that FitCOUNTY Cherokee has the opportunity to make a difference in our community by empowering and encouraging locals to take charge of their health and their well being,” Taylor said. “It’s great to put power in the hands of the only people that can do something with their lives.”

To learn more, visit the website www.fitcherokee.com, or visit the FitCOUNTY Cherokee Facebook page.


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To learn more, visit the website www.fitcherokee.com, or visit the FitCOUNTY Cherokee Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/FITCherokee