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The Preventive Health and Health Services Block Grant

2009 Success Stories


School District and the Community Create Access to a Healthier Environment

As Executive Director of Healthy Ventures, Deb Wickliffe was seeing more and more students who appeared overweight.  Since 1996, Healthy Ventures has worked to encourage and instill leadership qualities in Oconee County, S.C. youth while helping improve and foster healthy behaviors. According to the 2007 South Carolina Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 83 percent of high school students are not eating the daily-recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables, and 62 percent do not meet current physical activity recommendations.  Students’ poor nutrition and physical inactivity is a challenge in Oconee like many other counties across the state.  Since daily unhealthy behaviors often begin early in life and lead to chronic health conditions later, it is important for schools to develop and implement plans to address these behaviors.

In just a few short months, members of the Healthy Ventures Board with the support of School District of Oconee County developed and implemented a plan to empower middle and high schools to develop local solutions to individual school needs. Thanks to funding from the Preventive Health and Health Services Block Grant and support from a S.C. Healthy Schools mini-grant, South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control’s (DHEC) Region 1 health educators were able to assist with the following:

  • Training to establish School Health Teams;
  • Training on School Health Index to assess the strengths and weaknesses of each school;
  • Completion of self-assessment modules;
  • And development of improvement action plans at each school.

The School Health Teams brought administrators, staff, students, and the community together to create pillars of healthy lifestyles for students.  By utilizing the School Health Index, the school health teams were able to establish their schools’ strengths and weaknesses and to develop an improvement action plan to address them.  A survey of School Health Teams indicated that over 80 percent of the participants felt that the School Health Index was important and valuable in helping them to assess, develop and implement health plans for their schools.  The following accomplishments have resulted within some of the individual schools and surrounding communities in the Oconee County School District:

  • A district wide coordinated School Health Advisory Council;
  • Healthy options for concession and cafeteria products;
  • Expanded hours of operation for a school gymnasium for students, faculty and staff;
  • Reallocation of resource to provide strength and conditioning coach services to all students, faculty and staff; and
  • Clean up of a local small town’s recreation areas and roadways to improve physical activity opportunities.

Contact: Misty M. Lee, CHES, Health Educator
S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control – Region 1
220 McGee Road, Anderson, S.C.  29625
(864) 882-2245;           

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Smoking Cessation Program Inspires Upstate Employer to Offer Comprehensive Wellness Program

Melody B. gasped fresh air as she thought back to late 2005 when she was a smoker.  She lacked self-confidence and didn’t have the energy to play softball, her favorite sport.  As if this setback wasn’t enough, Melody began to live with the pain of losing her mother to a tobacco-related disease. To Melody, trying to live better was dreadful. She knew she had to find a way to quit smoking and make other healthy lifestyle choices, but resources for smoking cessation were not easily accessible within her daily work schedule.

There are many people in Greenville County, S.C. just like Melody.  In 2006, 19 percent of Greenville County adults smoked, according to the Impact of Chronic Disease Factsheets. More than half (62 percent) of adults were overweight, and 18 percent had sedentary lifestyles. These risk factors can lead to chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes. Another alarming result: $426 million is spent yearly on medical costs related to chronic diseases in Greenville County.

In collaboration with Greenville Family Partnership and the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control’s  (DHEC) Region 2 staff, Melody’s employer, Spinx, offered smoking cessation support through the Dedicate 2 Quit program. Dedicate 2 Quit includes four, one-hour weekly counseling and support sessions offered at worksites. DHEC Region 2 staff, supported by Preventive Health and Health Services Block Grant funds, provided the following technical assistance to conduct the Dedicate 2 Quit program:  consultation and training materials for the development of Dedicate 2 Quit and currently provides ongoing guidance.

Melody enrolled in the Dedicate to Quit program and today is still an ex-smoker. Thanks to its involvement with the Dedicate 2 Quit Program, Spinx saw the value in having a comprehensive health and wellness programs to improve the health of its more than 1,000 employees. In January 2009, supported by top management, Spinx initiated Operation Live Better.”  The approach was to improve health and wellness factors that will fulfill the company’s motto to “make life easier” for its employees. This program, which included healthy eating and nutrition presentations by Region 2 staff, will impact employees, family and friends at one of Greenville County’s largest employers. As part of the program, employees:

  • Select one of the following initiatives to participate in for one year: weight loss, exercise, safety, financial advice, smoking cessation, and nutrition;
  • Design a 12-month program for each initiative with measurable goals; and 
  • Receive incentives and awards at the end of 12 months if goals have been met.

Dedicate 2 Quit, which is still part of the Operation Live Better program, paved the way for this comprehensive approach at Spinx. This will ultimately contribute to an increase in productivity and morale and a decrease in absenteeism, stress and chronic disease rates. 

Contact:  Lillie Hall, MHS, MPH, CHES
S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control – Regioni 2
200 University Ridge, Greenville, S.C.  29601
(864) 282-4129;

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S.C. Piedmont Area Workers Breathe Easier Thanks to Smoke-free Ordinances

The statistics speak for themselves. Secondhand smoke causes approximately 3,000 lung cancer deaths and 35,000 heart disease deaths in U.S. adult nonsmokers each year.  It is involuntarily inhaled by nonsmokers, lingers in the air hours after cigarettes have been extinguished and can cause a wide range of adverse health effects, including cancer, respiratory infections, and asthma. The U.S. Surgeon General, our nation’s top public health official, has found that there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. Each year in South Carolina, nearly 800 people die from exposure to secondhand smoke.   

Located in northern South Carolina close to the Charlotte, N.C. metropolitan area, Rock Hill is the largest city in York County and the fifth largest in South Carolina. One goal of York County Council and Rock Hill City Council is to provide citizens with healthier workplaces. In 2008 and 2009, providing tobacco-free work places became an integral component of this goal.

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) Region 3 and Tobacco Free York County worked with the City of Rock Hill and York County Council to implement smoke-free indoor worksite ordinances. These laws prohibited smoking inside all workplaces in the city limits and the unincorporated areas of the county.

Steps taken to promote and implement this new smoke-free policy included:

  • Members of the Tobacco Free Coalition, lifetime residents in York County, spoke to the councils requesting their support of the ordinance;
  • York County Medical Society passed a resolution supporting smoke-free policies;
  • The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control Region 3, which is supported by the Preventive Health and Health Services Block Grant, in partnership with Tobacco Free York County provided technical support and guidance including sharing model ordinance language and providing information about cessations resources.

News articles about the ordinances appeared in Time Magazine, The State, The Charlotte Observer, The Clover Herald, and The Herald in Rock Hill.

On May 1, 2009, both the City of Rock Hill and York County’s smoke-free workplace ordinances became effective. These smoke-free laws protect:

  • More than 200,000 residents in York County;
  • More than 67,000 residents in Rock Hill; and
  • Furthermore, the Town of Fort Mill, also in York County, has recently adopted a similar policy, which will protect another 10,000 from secondhand smoke exposure at work.

Contact:  Kathy Brewer, RN, BSN, CDE
S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control – Region 3 
P.O. Box 3057, Rock Hill, S.C. 29732
(803) 909-7300, Fax (803) 909-7397;

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Kershaw County Partnership Combats Physical Inactivity

In 2006, according to a report from the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), having high blood pressure, being overweight and living sedentary lifestyles are all risk factors that contribute to the first and second causes of death in Kershaw County, cancer and heart disease.  After attending the 2008 South Carolina Obesity Summit, a group from Kershaw County wanted to know what they could do to improve these statistics.  Staff at KershawHealth’s Health Resource Center and DHEC Region 4 collaborated and developed a plan to bring different community stakeholders together to improve the health and wellbeing for all.

In 2008, Eat Smart Move More South Carolina offered communities across the state an opportunity to apply for seed grants to address the issues of physical inactivity and poor nutrition at the local level.  KershawHealth took the lead in convening a group of community members and upon discussion and approval of the group, decided to apply.  KershawHealth received the seed grant to develop a local coalition to assess the policies and environments in Kershaw County that affect people’s daily choices.  This strong partnership had representation from KershawHealth, the Kershaw County Community Medical Clinic, Clemson University Extension Cooperative Services, DHEC – Region 4, the City of Camden, Kershaw County School District, and Kershaw County Parks and Recreation.

The main assessment tool used was an online survey, which was shared through community Web sites, email lists, and local media.  DHEC Region 4’s Chronic Disease Program Manager, funded by the Preventive Health and Health Services Block Grant, developed the survey that was used and helped the team analyze the results. Over 200 community members responded to the survey.  Results included the following:

  • Residents were unaware of the physical activity opportunities available to them;
  • Reasons for not being active included not enough recreation facilities or sidewalks, and stray dogs; and
  • The majority of respondents would like to see more walking trails, an indoor swimming pool, a market with healthy food choices, and healthier options at local restaurants in Kershaw County.

Over the span of a year, the small group of interested community members expanded to include the Kershaw County Planning Department and the United Way of Kershaw County, and continues to grow.  Because of the relationship building and common focus on making Kershaw County a better place to live, the group has had many exciting accomplishments in a short period of time:

  • The group became Eat Smart Move More Kershaw County, a local chapter of the state organization;
  • The Wateree River was included in a blue trail project by American Rivers to promote canoeing and kayaking as forms of physical activity.  Eat Smart Move More Kershaw County participated in the National Trails Day celebration of this natural resource;
  • Eat Smart Move More Kershaw County was awarded a national grant from the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors to participate in the Action Communities for Health, Innovation, and Environmental Change (ACHIEVE) initiative.  This is a three-year process which will include further assessments of the physical environment and the development and implementation of an action plan to create healthier places and policies; and
  • Eat Smart Move More Kershaw County was one of five communities in S.C. to receive a Balancing InTake and Expenditure (BITE) grant from Eat Smart Move More S.C. to plan and implement community based physical activity and nutrition efforts.

Contact:  Lori Phillips, MPH, CHES, Chronic Disease Program Manager
S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control – Region 4
1705 West Evans Street, Florence, S.C. 29501
(843) 413-6433;

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Healthy Lifestyle Program Impacts Local Youth

The number of overweight and obese children has tripled during the last two decades.  Not only is this an issue in childhood, but it is 50-80 percent likely to persist into adulthood.  In the rural county of Chesterfield, South Carolina, 67 percent of the adults are obese or overweight with BMIs greater than 25.  Many of these adults were overweight as children.  Heart disease, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure risk factors are being seen with increased frequency in overweight children.  Consider the following alarming statistics:

  • 60 percent of overweight children age 5-10 have at least one cardiovascular risk factor;
  • One in three children born in the year 2000 is at risk of developing Type II Diabetes; and
  • More than one fourth of low income children ages 2-5 are overweight or at risk for becoming overweight.

The Chesterfield County Coordinating Council (CCCC) Health Subcommittee obtained a Prevention Partnership Grant from the S.C. Department of Health and Human Services to reduce childhood obesity, and thanks in part to Preventive Health and Health Services Block Grant funds, this initiative was begun.  Key partners implementing the grant included the CCCC, Chesterfield County First Steps, Chesterfield Family YMCA, CareSouth Carolina, and the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control’s Region 4 Health Education Program.  The Jumpstart to Good Health program provided a comprehensive, evidenced-based prevention program targeting children, their families, their child-care environments and community culture.  Strategies included:

  • Impacting the risk factors and health status indicators in individual children;
  • Improving the nutrition and physical activity environment at four childcare centers;
  • Generating incentives and support for sustainable, healthy lifestyle changes by families; and
  • Creating and implementing a community-wide prevention campaign that focused on the importance of a healthier lifestyle for children in Chesterfield County.

Positive and tangible clinical outcomes measures showing significant improvement were achieved in this community-based program that targeted poor children at high risk of obesity.  Significant improvements in the childcare environment, regarding health knowledge and lifestyle changes, were also achieved.  The Jumpstart to Good Health program not only achieved its core measure, improving the health of children, it has the potential to be spread and demonstrated on a larger scale.  The following impressive results were achieved:

  • The percentage of children identified as overweight or obese on the Body Mass Index (BMI) scale dropped from 60 percent to an impressive 42 percent; 
  • All children assessed or participating had a medical home and remained current on well-child checkups;
  • The childcare centers made positive environmental changes to curriculum, nutrition and activities that impacted the health of children served, earning 70 percent improvement on theEnvironmental Childhood Environment Rating Scale assessment tool; and
  • Parents reported an 8 percent to 23 percent improvement on the provision, access and selection of healthier foods and drinks for their children. 

Contact:  Sara M. Price, Chronic Disease Health Educator
S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control – Region 4
1705 West Evans Street, Florence, S.C.  29501
(843) 661-4728;

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Assessment Program Sparks Healthy Change in Allendale County

Allendale County is a small, rural county with low income, high unemployment rate, and many major health problems.  In 2006, the top five causes of death for Allendale County were: 1) heart disease, 2) cancer, 3) stroke, 4) nephritis and 5) diabetes, according to a S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) biostatistics report.  More than 78 percent of Allendale’s adult population is overweight compared to the state at 31 percent. This is coupled with a high rate of sedentary lifestyle at 31 percent compared to the state rate of 24 percent. 

In the spring of 2008, DHEC’s Region 5 called together a cross-section of Allendale County citizens to help examine what factors lead to these causes of death and ways to prevent the diseases. The effort, called the Mobilizing for Action through Planning and Partnerships /Local Public Health Systems, Community Health Status and Forces of Change Assessments (MAPPS), was supported in part by the Preventive Health and Health Services Block Grant.  The MAPP data identified obesity as a major concern in the community. Other issues include: 1) many single-focused programs, 2)

limited access to healthcare, 3) fragmented communication between local agencies and organizations, and 4) limited resources caused by loss of state funding and staff reductions.  The findings showed that many felt that lack of trust in the health system was one of the biggest problems facing Allendale County.  Many assessment participants stated that citizens have seen programs come and go over the years with little done to sustain them. They have seen citizens show reluctance to adopt changes for fear the program will disappear. 

Agencies that previously worked alone have joined forces to address some of Allendale County’s major problems.  As a result, some nontraditional alliances have formed, and a growing sense of cooperation has emerged.  For example, the library is partnering with a neighborhood association to teach youth about community gardening.  Other results include:

  • A major outgrowth of the assessment process was the formation of the It’s All About You! Community Health Team in June 2008.
  • Shortly after deciding on the name It’s All About You! Health Team, the partnership approached local grocers during the holiday season and secured their cooperation in distributing recipe cards containing healthy versions of holiday favorites to customers.  These were distributed to more than 250 families during the holiday season.
  • The health team co-sponsored and participated in a health ministry workshop that trained health ministry leaders from five local churches and one from an adjoining county in ways to prevent and/or delay the onset of heart disease, stroke and cancer through healthy lifestyle choices.
  • The group is partnering with a major insurance company to host a healthy recipe cook-off for all public employees (city and county) as well as residents.

Contact: Patricia D. Williams, MPH, CHES
S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control – Region 5
370 Log Branch Road, PO Box 360, Bamberg, S.C. 29042
(803) 245-5176;

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Program Works With Faith Community to Eliminate Toll of Tobacco Use

In church services throughout Horry, Georgetown and Williamsburg counties pastors can often be heard preaching that the body is a temple made to serve God. However, after the choir has sung and the benediction is given, many congregation members go outside and light a cigarette.

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of disease and premature death in South Carolina. Currently, about 20 percent of S.C. adults smoke cigarettes and 18.7 percent of state’s high school students report having smoked within the past 30 days. Additionally, 50,000 people die annually in the United States from secondhand smoke exposure, and 800 of these occur in our state. Tobacco use costs South Carolina more than $1 billion a year in health care expenses.

The S. C. Department of Health and Environmental Control Region 6 (DHEC), which includes Georgetown, Horry and Williamsburg counties, is working to alleviate this vast health and economic burden through reaching out to the faith community. Research has shown the tobacco-free policies protect people from secondhand smoke exposure, encourage smokers to quit and deter young people from beginning tobacco use.

Region 6’s Chronic Disease Manager, who is supported through funding from the Preventive Health and Health Services Block Grant, worked to promote tobacco-free policy adoption in the faith commuinty. He introduced the Mothers Eliminating Secondhand Smoke (M.E.S.S.) program to African-American church district health directors in the three-county region that is situated in northeast South Carolina. M.E.S.S. is an initiative that promotes tobacco and smoke-free policies in homes, vehicles and faith-based facilities. It includes educational sessions and offers assistance with policy development and implementation. As part of the intervention, the Chronic Disease Manager: 

  • Received training from the state M.E.S.S. director on conducting workshops;
  • Trained  approximately 25 faith health directors and leaders at meetings in Georgetown and Horry counties; and
  • Provided health leaders with:
    • Tobacco prevention and cessation pamphlets, brochures and Web sites;
    • Samples of tobacco-free signage that could be placed on their property; and  
    • A Powerpoint presentation, which gives an overview of the M.E.S.S. program and offers details about the dangers of tobacco use and secondhand smoke.

After receiving M.E.S.S. training, Bethel AME Church in Conway developed a  tobacco-free policy for buildings and grounds with the approval of its pastor and board members. Church leaders also created signs for grounds and provided the congregation with tobacco prevention-related educational resources. Other results in Region 6 include:

  • Eleven churches completed the M.E.S.S. program, which means they have adopted tobacco-free policies for buildings and grounds;
  • One church is in the process of completing the program;
  • Four other churches have shown an interest; and
  • Potentially 2,500 families have been reached. 

Contact:  Larry A. White, Chronic Disease Manager
S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control – Region 6
1931 Industrial Parkway, Conway, S.C. 29526        
(843) 915-8770;

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Mothers Eliminating Secondhand Smoke Program Helps Churches Promote the Body As a Smoke-free Temple

Jacob, a 62-year-old African American from Moncks Corner, S.C., tried his first cigarette as a teenager and smoked for more than 40 years. He tried quitting many times but had been unsuccessful. Jacob is not alone in South Carolina where tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of disease and premature death. Currently, about 20 percent of S.C. adults smoke cigarettes and 18.7 percent of state’s high school students report having smoked within the past 30 days.

Additionally, 50,000 people die annually in the United States from secondhand smoke exposure, and 800 of these occur in our state. Tobacco use costs South Carolina more than $1 billion a year in health care expenses.

S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) Public Health Region 7, which includes Berkeley, Charleston and Dorchester counties, is working to decrease these statistics by reaching out to the African-American faith community. Research has shown the tobacco-free policies protect people from secondhand smoke exposure, encourage smokers to quit and deter young people from beginning tobacco use. Funding by the Preventative Health Services Block Grant and Hold Out The Lifeline allowed Region 7’s tobacco health educator to provide training to African-American churches so they could implement the Mothers Eliminating Secondhand Smoke (M.E.S.S.) program in their congregations. M.E.S.S. is an initiative that promotes tobacco and smoke-free policies in homes, vehicles and faith-based facilities. It includes educational sessions and offers assistance with policy development and implementation. The tobacco health educator helped each participating church:

  • Host two (one for adults and one for youth) educational sessions with a minimum of 50 participants;
  • Adopt a 100 percent tobacco-free policy prohibiting tobacco use in buildings and on grounds;
  • Obtain pledges from members voluntarily committing to not smoking in their homes and vehicles; and
  • Post no smoking signs and educational posters throughout the grounds of the faith-based setting.

After he attended a M.E.S.S. program at Moncks Corner Baptist Church, Jacob tried quitting again. Jacob has now been smoke free for six months. Other successes include:

  • More than 25 churches in Charleston, Berkeley and Dorchester counties have been trained in the M.E.S.S. program, reaching more than 2,000 residents through education on the harmful effects of tobacco use and secondhand smoke;
  • More than 500 people signed pledges to keep their homes, vehicles, and faith based institution smoke-free. 
  • Eighteen churches adopted tobacco-free campus policies.

Efforts are reaching beyond the original church communities as demonstrated by additional outreach:

  • After presenting the tobacco prevention message to their youth, The Church House of Ministries in Summerville held additional educational sessions at River Oaks Middle School reaching over 750 students. The event notably received television coverage by Live 5 News.
  • Moncks Corner Baptist also held prevention educational sessions at Berkeley Family YMCA Youth Summer Camp for two years in a row. 

Contact: Martha Dunlap
S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control – Region 7
2070 Northbrook Blvd. Suite A-18, N. Charleston, S.C. 29406 
(843) 953-4309;

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Collaborative Works to Reduce Childhood Obesity in the Low Country 

The rising rate of childhood obesity is a major public health threat for children in South Carolina. Eat Smart Move More of the Low Country (ESMML), a collaborative of 24 agencies, conducted body mass index (BMI) measurements with third, fifth and eighth-graders in the Beaufort and Jasper County school districts and in six private schools to identify the percent of children who were overweight or obese. Findings showed:

  • In Beaufort County 37 percent of third-graders, 40 percent of fifth-graders and 39 percent of eighth-graders were obese or overweight; and
  •  In Jasper County, 48 percent of third-graders, 52 percent of fifth-graders and 37 percent of eighth-graders were obese or overweight.

The rates of overweight and obesity in South Carolina are among the highest in the nation. These rates are so concerning because obesity can lead to an increase risk for chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. 

Eat Smart Move More of the Low Country, a collaboration of agencies including the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) Region 8, is working to lower chronic disease rates in Beaufort and Jasper counties. Thanks to funding from the Preventive Health and Health Services Block Grant as well as grants from DHEC’s Cancer Prevention and Control and Obesity Prevention programs, the group has facilitated the following projects in Beaufort and Jasper counties specifically targeting childhood obesity:

  • The school BMI project, mentioned above, provided key baseline data and important insight on the extent of the childhood obesity problem in the two counties;
  • To showcase the school BMI findings, an Eat Smart Move More Wellness Conference was held on February 16, 2009. At the conference, the leadership of ESMML provided education and training to community leaders and local school wellness champions. These people, in turn, provided education to students and their families on healthy eating and fitness.

In addition to the conference, 10 Head Start Centers were trained in 2009 on two wellness curricula, Color Me Healthy and Families Eating Smart and Moving More. Both curricula include a classroom and family/home component so parents and guardians can learn how to incorporate healthy eating and physical activity into their daily routine.

Cindy Coburn –Smith, the Community Health Coordinator for the LifeFit Program at the Beaufort Memorial Hospital and secretary of ESMML, said the BMI project opened her eyes to the important issue facing young people in her community.
The BMI project and its subsequent outreach efforts resulted in:

  • More than 180 people attended the Eat Smart Move More Wellness Conference;
  • More than 100 school administrators and teachers have received physical activity and nutrition education through the ESMML group.

Contact: Geri Lester Baldasare                                 
S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control – Region 8                           
1407 King Street, Beaufort, S.C.  29902                              
(843) 522-1696;

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Elementary Students Garden Their Way to Healthier Eating

Nancy Stewart, a nurse in the elementary school of Pauline Glenn-Springs in Spartanburg County, became more and more concerned as she watched the poor eating habits and the lack of physical activity among her 459 students. She and other teachers were called to action when three of the students under age 10 developed Type I diabetes. Statistics states that if current trends continue, 30 percent of boys and 40 percent of girls born in 2000 will develop Type 2 diabetes, primarily due to a poor diet and lack of physical activity.  To counteract this problem, the school decided it was time to promote and encourage healthy eating and physical activity.

The Pauline Glenn-Springs Youth Advisory Committee, a group of third through sixth graders, decided that beginning the PGS Healthy Harvesters gardening project would be a creative way to encourage healthy eating and exercise. Thanks to funds from the S.C. Department of Agriculture and the All-Health Team, which is a health communications effort supported by the Preventive Health and Health Services Block Grant, the PGS Healthy Harvesters expanded their on-site herb garden to include a vegetable garden.

  • Students learned about all aspects of gardening: fertilizer, planting seasons, and maintenance;
  • Healthy eating tips were shared with students and parents on school morning show, Web sites, and newsletters; and
  • Tasting tests were held to expose students to various fruits and vegetables.

The students’ knowledge of gardening has expanded greatly. The project’s success has allowed them to be featured on WIS-10, The Spartanburg Herald, South Carolina Market Bulletin, and the Department of Agriculture Blog. The exposure has spread the awareness of their project and increased their community support.  Some of the impact that have been made are:

  • At least a 50 percent increase in healthier snacks being brought to school by students;
  • A number of families and faculty members planting a garden at home; and
  • An increase in the donations and support for the garden from parents and community members.

The success of the PGS Healthy Harvesters has prompted them to expand the garden next year to include more vegetables, a strawberry patch and to plant shrubs and bushes to enhance pollination.  The school plans to reach into the community and share its crops with the local nursing home and the Boys’ Home.

Contact: Joann Moton Minder, Health Communications
1800 Saint Julian Place, Columbia S.C.  29204
(803) 545-4501,

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Inspectors Ensure the Perfect Call

Every day, hundreds of people depend on the skills of a complete stranger to save their broken bodies.  From car accidents to allergic reactions, no one can predict how or when a person will fall victim to a medical emergency.  Over 500,000 South Carolinians requested emergency medical services last year alone.
Fortunately, there are thousands of emergency medical technicians (EMTs) waiting by their ambulances for someone to call for help.  Will it be a broken leg or a cardiac arrest?  Every call is as unique as a fingerprint.  As such, EMTs must have the knowledge, the skills and the equipment necessary to respond to any condition at a moments notice.   

The Preventive Health and Health Services Block Grant provides funding for licensing, inspections and examinations within the Department of Health and Environmental Control’s (DHEC) Division of Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and Trauma.  This ensures the emergency medical system of care provides our citizens with qualified personnel who respond in a timely manner with appropriate equipment.  This is accomplished by the following activities:

  • Licensing and inspecting EMS agencies to ensure that essential equipment, qualified personnel and appropriate patient care protocols are in place;
  • Inspecting ambulance vehicles for compliance with state mandatory equipment and sanitation standards;
  • Performing complaint investigations and reprimands for regulatory infractions to include improper patient care; and
  • Conducting National Registry of EMT’s practical exams at the basic, intermediate and paramedic levels to assess skill competency.

Perfection can be difficult to achieve when responding to a highly stressful, perhaps chaotic event.  Inspectors are making a difference by ensuring all of the elements are in place to run the “perfect call.”  Out of 519,240 patient encounters in South Carolina last year, only 23 complaint investigations were conducted by the Division of EMS and Trauma.  Four investigations dealt with patient care issues, and zero were a result of poor training or a lack of sufficient equipment. By having the proper training and equipment, the perfect call was not only possible, but a reality for 519,236 patients.

Contact:  Jennifer L. Paddock
Division of Emergency Medical Services and Trauma
S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control
(803) 545-4569;

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Reporting on Specialized Heart Attack Statistics Helps a S.C. Chapter of American Heart Association get funding to Implement Life-Saving Heart Attack Care System

Every year in the United States, almost 400,000 people experience the deadliest type of heart attack, called a ST segment -Elevation Myocardial Infarction (STEMI). These attacks carry a substantial risk of death and disability and call for a quick response by individuals and systems.

Last year in South Carolina, there were more than 3,000 hospitalizations for STEMI attacks, with a total cost of almost $200 million.  Only about 12 percent of these attacks were treated with balloon angioplasty, the critical treatment of choice for STEMI attacks.  While there are 17 S.C. hospitals with the capability to manage STEMI attacks, only three of them currently have Mission: Lifeline systems, which is a national program to advance systems of care for heart attach patients, in place. Thus, most South Carolinians do not have access to a coordinated STEMI system of care.

Mission: Lifeline is the American Heart Association's national initiative to advance the systems of care for patients with STEMI. The initiative’s goal is to reduce mortality and morbidity for STEMI patients and to improve their overall quality of care.  This program uses a community-based, multidisciplinary, patient-centric approach to meet the needs of STEMI patients throughout the entire continuum of care, from emergency transport to treatment, rehabilitation and follow-up care.

In order to communicate the urgent need to potential funders, the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association (AHA/ASA) requested data on STEMI from the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control’s (DHEC) Office of Chronic Disease Epidemiology and Evaluation.  The Chronic Disease Epidemiologist, who is supported by the Preventive Health and Health Services Block Grant, responded with:

  • Data on STEMI mortality and hospitalization rates;
  • Procedures done on STEMI admissions; and
  • Cost of care and source of payment statistics.
  • All data provided was for each S.C. county as well as the state overall.

The Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the AHA/ASA used the data received from DHEC’s Office of Chronic Disease Epidemiology and Evaluation to submit a successful proposal to a private donor for approximately $250,000 to begin a pilot Mission: Lifeline initiative in Charleston. Using the same data, proposals for funding totaling $2.5 million have been submitted to several foundations and other potential donors to expand the project.

The local chapter Director of State Health Alliances stated “The STEMI data from DHEC was a huge factor in making a compelling case for the need for Mission: Lifeline in South Carolina.”

Contact:  Patsy Myers, DrPH                                   
S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control                   
1800 St. Julian Place, Suite 306, Columbia, S.C.  29204
(803) 545-4933;

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Agriculture and Public Health Endorse Gardening to Fight Childhood Overweight and Obesity

Imagine the taste of a freshly picked, ripe, red tomato or the crunch of crisp salad greens just gathered from the garden. Although there are 87 community-based farmers markets and 148 certified roadside markets, many of South Carolina’s young citizens have never experienced the joy, or the inherent benefits, of eating locally grown produce.  According to 2007 Youth Risk Behavior Survey data, only 17 percent of South Carolina students in 9th through 12th grade ate vegetables and fruits five or more times per day compared to 21 percent nationally. Overweight and obesity and the related risk factors of unhealthy eating and inadequate amounts of physical activity increase the risk for developing other chronic conditions and diseases, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, certain cancers, arthritis, sleep apnea, and depression.

The South Carolina Department of Agriculture (SCDA) became concerned about the dramatic increase in overweight and obesity among South Carolina school students and committed to doing something about the problem.  A key staff member at SCDA asked for assistance from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control and other organizations to find an appropriate strategy to address the overweight and obesity issue in South Carolina.  Funds received from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Preventive Health and Health Services Block Grant helped support this effort.   The following activities occurred:

  • Formed a steering committee to identify current overweight and obesity initiatives across the state;
  • Developed strategies outlining ways SCDA could support current initiatives; and
  • Developed a report for the Commissioner of Agriculture recommending a school garden initiative.

The collaboration yielded the following results:

  • Commissioner of Agriculture endorsed the school garden recommendation;
  • School garden base-line survey was conducted;
  • Schools were invited to apply for school garden mini-grants; and
  • School garden initiative received support from Eat Smart Move More SC, the state’s obesity prevention coalition.

Continued commitment from the SCDA will only help to expand the reach of the school garden program. Soon, more South Carolina students will reap the health and taste benefits of vegetables and fruits they helped to grow in their own school gardens.

Contact: Susan S. Frost, MS, RD, LD
S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control
1800 St. Julian Place, 4th Floor
Columbia, SC 29204
(803) 545-4487;

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City and County Endorses Safe Streets Resolution for All Users

A headline in The (Myrtle Beach) Sun News stated authorities were seeking the driver of a vehicle that hit and killed a pedestrian and then fled the scene of the crash.  Jessica Evans, 26, was the third pedestrian killed in Horry County in just 10 days.  Another headline in The (Charleston) Post and Courier stated a S.C. man had been arrested in a hit-and-run that killed a man on a bicycle. Headlines like these are not uncommon in South Carolina where sprawling communities have become dangerous and inconvenient places to walk, bicycle, and take transit. 

According to Road Map to Safety Statistics, from January 1, 2003 to December 31, 2007, there were 4,578 traffic crashes in South Carolina that involved at least one pedestrian. Out of South Carolina’s 46 counties, Anderson County ranked ninth in the state for the number of traffic accidents involving pedestrians. 

Streets should be designed to safely transport all users including pedestrians and bikers. Complete Streets represent an innovation in traditional road construction philosophy by requiring all road construction and improvement projects to evaluate how street design will provide safe transportation for all users.

Thanks to funds from the Preventive Health and Health Services Block Grant and the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control’s Division of Obesity Prevention and Control (DOPC), a partnership was formed among DOPC, Healthy Communities, Palmetto Cycling Coalition and Eat Smart Move More. The partnership held four-hour training sessions in Rock Hill, Conway, Summerville, and Anderson to educate municipalities about the importance of implementing Complete Streets. 

As a result of the training and increased awareness of Complete Streets, Anderson County has accomplished the following:

  • Formed a core group of community members to work with the city and county to promote, design and build streets, trails and greenways that are accessible for all users;
  • Coordinated a bike event which included bike safety courses, distribution of bike helmets, and a bike ride downtown Anderson; and
  • Passed a city and county Complete Streets Resolution for all new transportation improvement projects to provide appropriate accommodation for pedestrians, bicyclists, transit riders, and persons of all abilities.

Holt Hopkins, the county’s Transportation Director and Interim Assistant Administrator said, “We’re trying to bring awareness to the need. Approving the resolution could open doors to some federal grants.  My staff will look at “complete streets” any time a project bigger than repaving happens.”

The efforts to develop complete streets will reduce crashes involving cyclists and pedestrians and help to create transportation options for all citizens regardless of age or ability.

Contact:  Jay Daniels, MPH, Healthy Communities Consultant                              
S.C. Department of Health & Environmental Control  
1800 St. Julian Place, Columbia, S.C. 29204            

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Program Builds Girls’ Self-Esteem and Discourages Risky Behaviors

According to Kids Count, a national and state-by-state effort to track the status of children in the United States, South Carolina ranks 46th out of 50 and Lee County ranks 44th out of 46 counties in the state for the overall status measuring educational, social, economic, and physical well-being of children. Lee County, a rural county located in central South Carolina, ranked:

  • 45th for number of children in poverty;
  • 43rd with high school drop-out rates; and
  • 24th in the number of girls 14-17 who become pregnant.

Thanks in part to Preventive Health and Health Services Block Grant funds, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), the South Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, and the 16 sexual assault centers in the state have joined together to focus on primary prevention of sexual violence.  The goal is to stop sexual violence and other risky behaviors before they ever start by focusing on positive self-esteem and healthy relationships. 

Rosalyn Moses is the community educator and now director of the Family Resource Center, one of the 16 sexual assault centers in our state. She has not only been providing education and awareness to Kershaw and Lee counties for the past five years, but she has also forged the relationship with the Lee County School district to provide multi-session healthy relationship/self-esteem building curricula through a program called Girl Power in the three elementary schools and two middle schools in the district. 

The program was recently expanded to include older groups because girls participating in elementary and middle schools wanted to continue the program while transitioning to high school.  In addition to the Girl Power program, a peer-to-peer support group is also being integrated into the high school.

More than 200 girls have benefited from participating in the program.  Each academic year, girls keep a journal of their thoughts, feelings, and a combined journal of what girl power is and what it has meant to them.  Following are a few excerpts:

  • “Girl Power is when you see you have what it takes and then you show the girl next to you – she does too.” - 5th Grader                                                                                    
  • “Girl Power is something I never knew I had. Now I like who I see in my mirror.” - 8th Grader
  • “I have learned so much in Girl Power that I can use during life! This has changed me for the better.” - 7th Grader
  • “I love being in Girl Power.  It has given me more self-esteem and now I tell myself positive comments.” - 6th Grader

Contact: Jane Key, Sexual Assault Program Coordinator                                                                        
S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control                                                                           
1751 Calhoun Street, Columbia, S.C. 29201                                                                                           
(803) 898-0670;

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Health Advocates’ Efforts Ignite Smoke-Free Ordinances Across South Carolina

South Carolina is a tobacco-growing state with deep historical and cultural ties to the farming and tobacco production industries. For years, health proponents have faced overwhelming resistance when promoting smoke-free workplace policies in local communities. The perception among local policy makers was that state law prohibited local communities from passing their own smoke-free ordinances. Despite evidence of favorable public opinion for smoke-free workplace ordinances, air-quality studies showing alarming rates of secondhand smoke exposure and persuasive arguments by supporters, local officials remained hesitant to address the issue arguing that the decision should be made at the state level.

However, tobacco use remained the leading preventable cause of death and illness in South Carolina resulting in up to 1, 120 adults dying from secondhand smoke exposure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Because of their exposure to secondhand smoke, non-smoking hospitality employees, such as restaurant and bar workers, have a 50 percent greater risk of lung cancer and 20 to 30 percent greater risk of heart disease than nonsmokers. In 2006, the U.S. Surgeon General’s report found “there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke.”

Armed with this clear, scientific evidence, health advocates began to leverage support for local, comprehensive smoke-free workplace ordinances. Funding by the Preventative Health Services Block Grant allowed South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control staff across the state to work with community partners to promote and support smoke-free workplaces and public places. Actions included:

  • Educating the public about the hazards of secondhand smoke through opinion pieces and letters to the editor in local newspapers;
  • Identifying key community leaders, constituents and local partners to help educate council members on the issue;
  • Utilizing fact sheets, presentations and other resources to educate the community and city officials in the planning process; and
  • Providing sample smoke-free ordinances from other cities.

As a result of advocates’ efforts:

  • Sullivan’s Island was the first municipality in South Carolina to enact a comprehensive smoke-free ordinance in June 2006;
  • The S.C. Supreme Court ruled in 2008 that local governments have the power to enact local smoke-free ordinances;
  • Currently there are 30 smoke-free ordinances including five counties and 25 towns and cities;
  • As of January 2010, over 30 percent of the S.C.population will be protected from secondhand smoke at work and in public places; and
  • As of January 2010, 89 percent of the population in Lexington and Richland counties, home to the state’s largest metropolitan area, will be covered by smoke-free workplace ordinances.

With each added success, more and more communities are proposing local smoke-free ordinances impacting the health of all workers in South Carolina.

Contact:  Hellen F. Dekle, M.Ed.
S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control
1800 St. Julian Place, Columbia, S.C. 29204                        
(803) 545-4463;