Cross Lanes Kicks off Health Initiative Involving Community Resources

Article excerpt 304-348-5188

A table filled with a bounty of healthy foods greeted visitors to a recent Monday evening meeting at Cross Lanes United Methodist Church.

The healthy food choices got them in the right frame of mind for the kick-off to the Healthy Cross Lanes Initiative, which is a new, grassroots effort to promote healthier lifestyles in the community.

Ideas for the initiative are being pulled together under the direction of a steering committee comprised of representatives from various community groups.

The steering committee includes Pastor Gary Nelson, Cross Lanes United Methodist Church; Vicki Ballengee, Tyler Mountain-Cross Lanes Community Services; Debi White, director of the YMCA Cross Lanes; Holly Cordray, MedExpress Cross Lanes and Krista Farley-Raines, American Red Cross.

Ballangee helped lead the meeting at the church.

"We're putting together a Healthy Cross Lanes Initiative that will kick-off on Jan. 1," Ballangee said.

But it will take input from community members. Without the "infrastructure" of an incorporated community, Cross Lanes must rely on the resources at hand to develop programs and activities that will foster healthier lifestyles, Ballangee said.

As part of the initiative, a "community calendar" will be produced that will highlight healthy living events in the community, she said.

According to a fact sheet distributed at the meeting, the Healthy Cross Lanes Initiative aims to focus on education, nutrition, fitness, psychological, emotional and spiritual aspects, medical and dental care, employment, marketing and promotion, substance abuse and recognition and incentives for participation.

At weekly steering committee meetings, various community resources were identified that could help residents become fitter and healthier. The Monday meeting helped to foster further explorations of resources.

And there are resources available that might not be apparent to many Cross Lanes residents.

For instance, "behind Point Harmony Elementary School, there is a nature trail, and Cross Lanes Elementary has a [walking] track," she said.

Diana Fleek, president of the Woman's Club of Cross Lanes, said the club is in the early planning stages of developing a program on healthy eating. The club already sponsors a yearly community health fair.

"We'd like to get a program set up before Christmas," Fleek said.

Also in attendance was Debi White, branch director of the YMCA of Cross Lanes, who said the YMCA's mission of "healthy body, healthy spirit" dovetails with the Healthy Cross Lanes Initiative. …