- Posted July 25, 2014 by
Williamson, West Virginia
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Convince us your city is healthy!
Healthy in the Hills: Williamson, WV
As an employee of the Mingo County Diabetes Coalition I have seen first-hand the impact that healthy lifestyle changes have made on hundreds of people in this small, rural county. Williamson, located in Mingo County, is considered to be a food desert, and ranks close to last in many categories on the Robert Wood Johnson Foundations County Health Rankings, including obesity, diabetics and clinical care. Mingo County is also very impoverished, with 31% of its children living in poverty, according to the RWJF rankings.
Over the last two years, with collaborations from the Williamson Redevelopment Authority, the Mingo County Diabetes Coalition, the Williamson Health and Wellness Center, and several other organizations, many changes have been made within the community to make it a healthy place!! Walking programs have been established that engage over 1,000 participants, monthly 5ks are held, community gardens are popping up all over the county, and a farmers market is now open May-October.
I work specifically with the Williamson community gardens and farmers market. I moved from upstate New York two years ago as a volunteer and have been hooked ever since. The dedication and commitment that I have seen within this community by people who are determined to improve their lifestyles has been amazing. I have enjoyed watching our community garden grow, and watching the individual gardeners themselves (many of which live in a low-income housing facility and are disabled or elderly) go from having gardens full of weeds, to having gardens full of fresh vegetables.
Williamson residents have faced some serious barriers over the years, but I can say with full certainty that the are working to overcome them to make their city the healthiest it can be!