Southwest Georgia Cancer Coalition CEO Diane Fletcher was among the representatives that presented mini-grants to four regional organizations Friday as part of a partnership between the coalition and the Emory Prevention Research Center.
ALBANY, Ga. -- The message of prevention is something area officials don't intend to give up on.
The Emory Prevention Research Center (EPRC), along with local partners including the Southwest Georgia Cancer Coalition, awarded a total of $32,000 in grants to various community organizations in Albany, Tifton and Thomasville for the purpose of establishing programs designed to improve health outcomes in their respective communities.
The "Prevention Programs That Work" mini-grants program is funded through the EPRC's Cancer Prevention and Control Research Network.
The mini-grants will be used to conduct programs to help promote nutrition, physical activity and tobacco use prevention.
Officials say all these programs have been shown to be effective.
"This will be our third round of grants," said Johanna Hinman, associate director of operations at EPRC.
The mini-grant recipients for this round were the Tift County School System, Thomasville Community Resource Center, Oakridge Baptist Church and the Phoebe Network of Trust (NOT) School Health Program. Each organization received $8,000 for program expenses over two years, and will also receive staff assistance from EPRC in conducting its program.
The research-tested programs the organizations will implement are "Body and Soul," a nutrition program for churches; "Coordinated Approach to Child Health" (CATCH), a nutrition and physical activity program for children and adolescents; and "Family Matters," a family-directed tobacco use prevention program.
Both the Tift County School System and the Thomasville Community Resource Center will adopt the CATCH program. Oakridge Baptist will conduct "Body and Soul," and Phoebe Network of Trust will do the "Family Matters" program.
"We feel good about this," the Rev. Richard Pogue of Oakridge Baptist Church, who is a cancer survivor, said after receiving the check. "If we can prevent someone from going through cancer, we are doing well.
"If we can teach the community to eat healthier, we can accomplish a lot. We feel optimistic."
Officials with Phoebe NOT said Friday they intend to use a multi-generational approach to their program.
"The program is designed to help prevent the use of (tobacco), and we will impart knowledge about living healthy lifestyles," explained Network of Trust Director Angie Barber. "(Receipt of the grant) truly shows the importance of the work the Cancer Coalition continues to do."
"Family Matters" will be utilized for families in Dougherty, Worth, Terrell, Lee and Calhoun counties.
The EPRC focuses on community-based cancer prevention and the reduction of health disparities in Georgia. Its mission is to establish an environment in which communities and researchers are working together to significantly reduce the burden of cancer, with a focus on Southwest Georgia.
"We decided to focus on Southwest Georgia, an area that doesn't see a lot of (funding), and we have found this to be a rewarding partnership," Hinman said.
"We can help organizations bring programs in and help the communities in Southwest Georgia."
In that respect, the mini-grant program ties into the core mission of the Cancer Coalition by reaching out to organizations here so they can directly help those most in need.
"A good part of the Coalition's work is to improve the health of residents," said Coalition CEO Diane Fletcher. "A lot of diseases could be prevented by changing lifestyles; that's what these programs are teaching people to do.
"By providing (local organizations) funding, they can conduct these programs with people that already know them."
The EPRC, along with the Cancer Coalition, established a Community Advisory Group (CAB) to help guide the EPRC's activities. The CAB represents the makeup of the Southwest Georgia region and draws on its strong relationship with the Coalition. The CAB membership includes residents of the community, along with agencies and organizations that serve the community.
Currently serving as the CAB chairman is Darrell Sabbs, community benefits coordinator at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital.
"Prevention, prevention, prevention. It's a word we use all the time," he said during his remarks. "It does save lives, bottom line. We could, and we are, saving lives.
"The message of prevention is something we are all about."