LiveWell Greenville: Making Living Better for Five Years

Five years ago, the concept of making Greenville a healthier place to live was given legs—and a name—as LiveWell Greenville. The impetus for creating the organization was the childhood obesity report from 2008, commissioned by Piedmont Health Foundation. The report made it clear that if some changes weren’t made, the state of health in Greenville County was not headed in a good direction.

That report led to the formation of Healthy Kids Healthy Greenville, which was rebranded in 2011 to form LiveWell Greenville—to focus on healthy choices that can be made in all facets of life. Eight workgroups cover every place where individuals and families might need a reminder to make a healthier choice, and initiatives championed by each of the groups bring together city and county government groups, nonprofits, industry, medical practitioners, and food professionals to help make Greenville a healthier place.

The eight workgroup areas are At Mealtime, At Play, At School, Out of School Time, At Work, At Worship, At the Doctor, and Around Town, and there is, naturally, overlap among those areas. The organization itself is really a network of partnering organizations, with each workgroup area headed up by a specialist.

From community gardens to more active time in schools to a more bikeable/walkable city to resources for pediatricians dealing with obesity-related issues, LiveWell aims to increase access to healthy eating and active living for all Greenville County residents.

At a luncheon celebration this week, LiveWell will celebrate five years of making Greenville a healthier place. The celebration will include speakers from various segments of the community: students, parents, educators, pastors, healthcare professionals, and, of course, Sally Wills, executive director of LiveWell Greenville.

Wills says, “As we celebrate the accomplishments of the last five years, the LiveWell Greenville coalition will continue to dig deeper into the root causes of obesity, particularly among our youth. Many of our initiatives in our first five years were global in nature; as we move forward, we will continue to seek out those systemic changes while also keeping focus on the communities with the greatest needs.

We foresee our next five years being just as successful as our first, with bigger goals and farther-reaching initiatives.”

One notable achievement that will be celebrated is Culinary Creations, which completely turned the school lunch program in Greenville County schools on its head. All of the school food services workers—formerly known as “lunch ladies”—have had 40 hours of culinary and nutrition training, and the menus have been revamped to focus on healthy, fresh food instead of the prepackaged, starchy fare that had been the norm.

Since this program feeds not only students, but faculty, staff, and administrators in all 85 schools in the county, it touches three of the workgroup areas: At School, At Mealtime, and At Work. And last fall, LiveWell Greenville, working with Greenville County Schools and Mill Village Farms, showcased the food of young, school-aged chefs at the Euphoria food festival with a “Lunchtime Throwdown” event. The winning dish, a Cajun rice creole, will be added to cafeteria menus.

Other Highlights

  • LiveWell Out of School: Through LiveWell partnerships and grants, five Momentum Bike Clubs introduce at-risk youth to cycling, and the health benefits of the activity added to the mentoring support and time spent together in a group activity help young people to overcome significant risk factors.
  • LiveWell At Play: Greenville County Park Hop participation has grown each year of its existence, from 300 participants in 2013 to nearly 950 in 2014 to more than 1200 last year. The county-wide scavenger hunt uses a Park Passport with clues to help kids and families compete for prizes by visiting 17 parks in the county.
  • LiveWell At School/Around Town: Safe Routes to School is an initiative that aims to make it easier for kids to walk or ride a bike to school. LiveWell Greenville partnered with Upstate Forever to secure a $40,000 grant to implement the program in 2013, which included eight schools that year. The following year, a total of 13 schools had developed plans to create safe routes, with 32 schools participating in National Walk to School Day.

All photos courtesy of LiveWell Greenville.

Sharon Purvis is a freelance writer and editor who makes her home with her husband in Duncan, South Carolina. You can find more of her work at SharonPurvisWrites.com.

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