by Marissa Sheldon
On Saturday, May 17, Voices into Action and the Sanford Farmers’ Market co-hosted a wondferful community event at Depot Park – the first of our three county celebrations. The purpose of the event was to highlight our mini-grantees’ work, in addition to presenting the findings of our research and community food assessments in an interactive way. The weather was definitely on our side – after a week with some days in the 90s and others with torrential downpours, we lucked out to have a sunny, dry, 70-degree forecast throughout the morning.
The event opened with an introduction and welcome speech from former mayor Cornelia Olive, followed by an energetic, crowd-pleasing Zumba session led by another mini-grantee, Monica Monroe. Truong Tran of Focus Total Fitness helped individuals of all ages try a “battle rope” workout, and mini-grantee Sandra Boyd of Fair Promise AME Zion Church led a group walk around downtown Sanford.
In addition to fitness sessions and the Farmer’s Market, we had various activities related to Voices into Action priorities and partnerships. Kids were very excited about all of the activities that were offered, even those that were supposed to draw an adult crowd! A seed planting station led by mini-grantee Annie McIver of Cameron Grove AME Zion Church gave participants a chance to experience growing their own healthy food, which is the goal of Cameron Grove’s new community garden. Jackie Brooks with the Stevens Center, another mini-grantee organization, displayed the Center’s progress in creating an open outdoor space for recreational purposes. EFNEP Program Assistant, Debbie Stephenson, provided samples of a healthy chicken and fruit salad recipe, and kids were able to make their own fruit and yogurt parfait with Youth EFNEP volunteer, Micaela Hayes.
Several community participants talked at length with VIA staff members about their health goals for themselves or the community, and their appreciation for what we are trying to accomplish in Lee County. One woman openly mentioned that she was 45 years old with diabetes and congestive heart failure and said, “Once you have health problems like this, you can’t ignore them. But the children are our future.” Other community members also approached VIA staff to express interest in getting involved with Lee HEALTh and sharing their own visions for Lee County, and we would love to see them at our next meeting on Wednesday!
We were also able to launch our 2014 Lee County Food Assessment Report during the event, which summarizes all of our research findings, food assessment data, and community-based work from the past two years. Take a look!