AARP Eye Center
By Michelle R. Davis
Rebecca Moody, 52, has struggled to manage her diabetes over the years, not always knowing what to eat to control her blood sugar.
Then she took a diabetes management class at her local hospital and quit junk food and soda. Moody lost 12 pounds and is looking for more ways to improve her health.
Her city, Hagerstown, is the site of One for Good, a pilot project aimed at bringing together businesses and local health and community groups—including AARP Maryland—to boost the health and wellness of residents.
Moody is looking forward to taking a dietitian-led tour of her local Martin’s grocery store. She hopes to stop at the local farmers market for a healthy-cooking demonstration. And Walgreens has monthly senior days, with experts on hand to discuss medication management.
All these efforts have become part of the One for Good initiative. And because they are in her community, Moody pointed out, she’s more likely to attend. “I’m going to these places anyway,” she said.
In 2014, Hagerstown was named one of the most obese cities in the nation by Gallup and Healthways, with high rates of unhealthy indicators such as diabetes and hypertension. Local organizations then started to focus on health, said Allen Twigg, executive director of behavioral and community health at Meritus Health in Hagerstown and the cochair of Healthy Washington County, a coalition of groups.
One step at a time
So when One for Good was looking for a city to try out wellness programs, Hagerstown fit the bill. Sponsored by an international coalition of companies called the Consumer Goods Forum, One for Good connects retailers with community groups to encourage people to take one small step at a time to improve their health.
The city benefited from an infrastructure in place through Healthy Washington County. “There’s more power in collective partnerships when you’re trying to make a change,” Twigg said.
One for Good has added resources to that effort, said Maggie Biscarr, director of global partnership solutions for PepsiCo., a member of the forum. Walmart, another member, was holding quarterly wellness days featuring consultations with pharmacists, diabetes screenings and blood pressure checks.
Under the One for Good program, these are now held monthly and also include an emphasis on healthy eating, with samples of nutritious foods.
The initiative is focused on four goals: quitting smoking, healthier eating, increased exercise and managing medication.
For AARP, teaming up with One for Good makes sense, said Aiyshen Padilla, its vice president for strategic relationships and alliances, because older residents are the target audience.
“This is about healthy attitudes and behaviors, but mostly providing tools and resources to help people make incremental changes themselves,” she said.
One for Good intends to collect evidence on the impact of the efforts. Healthy Washington County conducts a community- health-needs assessment every three years, which will provide some data, Twigg said.
For more information on events in the Hagerstown area, visit healthywashingtoncounty.com.
Michelle R. Davis is a writer living in Silver Spring.