GRU, groups to push health issues

Project will search for strategies

Public health leaders at Georgia Re­gents University are joining with community groups to re-energize an effort to improve health issues in Augusta.


Members of the Healthy Augusta project will meet 10 a.m. today at GRU to discuss strategies to combat health problems such as obesity, lack of access to fresh fruit and vegetables and smoking in public places.

The project is being spearheaded by the GRU Institute of Public and Preventive Health, which funds four $25,000 grants for joint projects between GRU public health researchers and community groups.

“We’re hoping that our investigators will partner with Healthy Au­gusta stakeholders so that we could actually develop and test some interventions that could be replicated around the CSRA,” said institute Director Selina Smith.

The project is modeled after a successful effort called Healthy Sa­van­nah, she said. The idea is to pool resources and bring them to bear on these initiatives, Smith said.

“Our goal is to really get these community organizations engaged because we couldn’t do this on our own,” she said. “It’s going to require the resources of all of the stakeholders, well-integrated, in order to really deliver some interventions and some change that is needed.”

The Augusta Partnership for Chil­dren Inc. has been working for years on issues such as childhood obesity in trying to make children healthier, said Executive Director Ro­betta McKenzie. Having a good approach backed up by extensive study provides the opportunity to make real progress, she said.

“They can do the research,” McKenzie said. “But once we make sure we have good information from that research, then we’re better able to see what we need to be doing, whether it is in a schoolhouse or a community program.”

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