OBERLIN — The city’s pursuit of the state’s Healthy Community Award is having a positive effect on residents in and around Oberlin.
Last year, Oberlin was one of about a dozen municipalities in the state to receive the award from the Ohio Department of Health’s Bureau of Creating Healthy Communities. On Monday, city officials were presented with a banner proclaiming the achievement.
The award represents the work of several different organizations in the community, including Live Healthy Oberlin, Oberlin Community Services and the Lorain County General Health District.
The city completed four of five necessary objectives to receive the award, including education and programs about chronic disease, active living, healthy eating and general community health. Kat Bray, health educator at the Lorain County General Health District, said the city needs to do more work on being tobacco-free to complete all five objectives.
The city has many smoke-free areas, but one of the things it still needs to do to get the next step is hold a campaign about being smoke-free.
If the city gets the last objective, it would be the first in the state to achieve all five.
Oberlin Community Services has instituted several programs that helped the city reach its goals.
Its food pantry is a healthy choice pantry, and the organization loans out bicycles as alternative transportation to anyone in need.
The organization also helped a group of people who were pre-diabetic to lose a combined 140 pounds through diabetes education. There’s a weekly cooking class that is open to anyone and teaches participants about healthful food, how to cook a recipe, and then sends the participants home with all the ingredients to re-create it.
Losing weight together
Jane and Gary Rowland participated in the diabetes education class and together lost about 65 pounds total over the course of a year.
At first the group met every week, then every two weeks while they learned how to carry over the healthy living tools into their real lives.
Jane Rowland said she and her husband live on a farm in Rochester Township and raised their children to be healthy eaters, but struggle with it now that the kids and grown and out of the house.
They found themselves going to McDonald’s more than they should and both have been told by doctors to watch their sodium intake and that they were at risk for diabetes.
She said the class and the others in it helped them get back on track.
The couple now looks at labels when they shop and have instituted “meatless Monday” where they eat vegetarian fare.
Rowland says they still enjoy McDonald’s from time to time, but now when they go they split a meal for lunch and then enjoy big salads with low-fat dressing at dinner.
Jane Rowland liked the class so much that she immediately signed up for the Wednesday healthy cooking classes when the diabetes program ended.
So far she’s made a Chinese stir fry and turkey tacos.
Her husband was skeptical when she brought the ingredients home, but after eating dinner he admitted the food was pretty good, Jane Rowland said.
The couple raise cows for eating on their farm, but since the diabetes class they try to incorporate more chicken and fish into their diets.
“We cut back on the fats and are watching the sodium and my energy levels went way up,” Jane Rowland said, adding that she also now limits food with white flour. “I didn’t realize how much it was slowing me down.”
Though the class is over, members make an effort to meet up at restaurants like Panera where they can order salads and keep each other on track.
Jane Rowland said her goal is to get off of her daily blood pressure medication by adopting a more healthful lifestyle.
“I would recommend the program,” Jane Rowland said. “The camaraderie keeps you centered and focused.”