Promoting healthy living

The Sampson County Health Department and Healthy Carolinians recently sponsored a Teen Health Fair as part of their initiative to promote healthy living. (Kristy D. Carter/Sampson Independent)

With a mission to improve the health and quality of life for the residents of Sampson County, the 25 members of the Healthy Carolinians task force are working to promote a healthy lifestyle among all Sampsonians.

According to Chick Gancer, chair of the Sampson County Partners for Healthy Carolinians, the task force is a volunteer non-profit group who represents various health organizations throughout the county. The 25-member board is comprised of healthcare officials who serve on other health-related committees in the area.

“We assist the health department in spreading awareness of the different health concerns in the community,” Gancer said. “Our volunteers carry the information out to the public.”

Started in the late 1990s by now Sampson County Health Department director Wanda Robinson, the task force began as a project for one of Robinson’s college classes and has continued to grow over the last two decades.

“Our mission is to improve the health and quality of life for Sampson County’s citizens by advising the Board of Health regarding the health problems of Sampson County and this assist the Board in its responsibilities to develop an assessment of the community,” Gancer said.

Those who are a part of the group, Gancer said, have three goals. The first is to provide for the community to assist in health care planning; the second is to recognize and focus on preventative health care needs; and the last is to decrease health disparities through health education programs.

“We plan to continue focusing on the main issues, which involve chronic diseases,” Gancer stated. “We want to reduce cardiovascular disease by 2020.”

According to Gancer, Sampson County Partners for Healthy Carolinians strives to include all concerned individuals and organizational representatives who desire to work to improve the health of the people of Sampson County.

One of the recent projects of the task force was a Teen Health Fair, which was held in conjunction with the Sampson County Health Department. The purpose of the health fair was to share information and resources about teen wellness with the youth in the community. The focus of this event, Gancer noted, was to help reduce the number of teen pregnancies in Sampson County.

A survey conducted by the task force showed that the number one issue among teenagers is teen pregnancy, therefore Gancer and other members of the group felt offering information on the issue, as well as others, would greatly benefit the teens. The event, that was held at Clinton High School, was open to all teenagers across the county and included data and information on other issues such as bullying, domestic violence, substance abuse, parenthood, STDs and other health concerns.

“We received terrific support from the community,” Gancer said.

The task force plans to host the Teen Health Fair again in the future.

Membership with the Healthy Carolinians is open to anyone who is interested in making a difference in the healthy lifestyles of Sampson County residents. The task force meets monthly on the third Tuesday of the month from 1:30-2:30 p.m. at the Center for Health and Wellness.

For more information about the task force or to become a member, contact Gancer at 910-385-2306 or Sidney Smith at 910-592-1131, ext. 4240.