NAL donates to Bee Well

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North American Lighting (NAL), Edgar County’s largest employer likes what Bee Well of Edgar County is trying to accomplish.

Employees Amanda Martin and Kayla Lindsay attended the coalition’s meeting Thursday, Feb. 7, with a $250 unrestricted gift.

“Bee Well is active in the community and doing good things, and we want to help,” said Lindsay.

Bee Well formed after several people working in the health profession and related fields, along with educators and private citizens, became alarmed by two independent studies ranking Edgar County as one of the unhealthiest places in Illinois. High levels of obesity and heart disease in the county’s population were major factors in the unfavorable rating.

The goal of Bee Well is to raise awareness about the health problems and encourage citizens to adopt healthier lifestyles.

Mary Liz Wright had an immediate idea for how to use the money. She said a long-delayed plan for working with local restaurants to either identify existing menu items that are heart healthy or to help the staff create healthy entrees is ready to move forward. The money can help with printing stickers attached next to menu items indicating the choice is heart healthy and Bee Well Approved clings for the restaurant doors.

A three-way effort between Bee Well, Prospect Bank and the City of Paris to create a new community garden on Union Street is moving forward, albeit slowly.

An agreement permitting use of the ground is not yet signed and that concerns Ron George of the garden committee.

“We’ve got some prep work to do,” said George.

The site has poor quality soil and the plan is to build raised beds and haul in good dirt to fill the wooden frames.

“We may not have all of the layout done, but we hope to have some beds done (by planting time),” George said.

The gardening season is rapidly approaching with some cold crops that could be planted in just a few weeks so work converting the lot into a community garden needs to start soon.

Wright said a meeting is scheduled Feb. 19 for people interested in participating in the community garden. She noted in addition to constructing the raised beds, the gardeners have to erect a fence around the site.

One of Bee Well’s more successful efforts was a six-week Fun Run program for children at Twin Lakes Park. The children participated in a series of dashes, plus half-mile and one-mile runs.

Erin Frank helped spearhead that project and she recommended moving the program back to a June-July time period after a switch to doing it in the fall did not have the desired participation.

In a related vein, Brandi Eaton is finishing plans for Learn to Run modeled after a program in Decatur where experienced runners help and encourage new runners getting started. The overall goal is to get people moving rather than training for a 10-K run.

Eaton said over the 10-week period participants increase their running time at their own pace. By the end of the program people who never ran will likely be capable of running non-stop for 30 minutes. She added when she did the program some of the participants did not run but concentrated on increasing their walking time.

“It’s based on endurance, not distance,” Eaton said.

She plans to ask the Paris Pacers for help to make Learn to Run happen, mainly because this is a volunteer-dependent project and offered free to participants.

“It’s crucial to have experienced runners there to support those starting, even if it is to just walk beside them,” said Eaton.

According to Ken Polky, the Learn to Run approach of taking things in gradual increments is most likely to have success with changing people’s attitude toward getting healthy.

Polky said those who are already unhealthy from something like obesity or tobacco use are generally struggling with multiple health concerns that possibly include mental health issues. He described the change from unhealthy to healthy as a daunting task, especially for those who previously tried and failed.

“Instead of telling people they need to make a radical change, they need to focus on just one thing at a time,” Polky said.