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CCHS students help county residents make healthy choices | News | The Press and Standard

by | March 22, 2018 5:00 pm

Last Updated: March 21, 2018 at 12:42 pm

Exhibit will be open until April 2 at AHEC.

The walls at Lowcountry AHEC are covered with food, thanks to four Colleton County High School students.
Rachel Williams, Karrington Reed, Jelazia Williams and Jasmine Davis participated in a “Photovoice Art Exhibit,” co-sponsored by Lowcountry AHEC, Eat Smart Move More Colleton and the Medical University of S.C.’s College of Nursing. The four students took over 400 photographs “throughout their daily lives that visually depict the barriers or challenges they race regarding access to nutritious foods and physical activity in addition to things that make it easier to eat healthy foods and be physically active,” said Dr. Michelle Nichols of MUSC.
The photographs, as well as the students’ comments on what they found, are on display in Lowcountry AHEC’s conference room at 87 Academy Road through April 2. The exhibit is open to the public.
“Dr. Nichols approached us about taking pictures around the community that showed improvement or things we though needed improvement and telling what the pictures meant to us,” said Rachel Williams.
“The project is trying to get more healthy stuff back into the community,” said Jelazia Williams. “There’s too much fast food and not enough options for exercise. We really need a free community center where children can play and exercise after school, instead of going and getting into things they shouldn’t.”
Jasmine Davis pointed at one of her pictures mounted on the wall and said, “I tried to tell people to be positive and more healthy. I took this picture of cigarette butts because they are bad for your health and bad for the community, because people leave them on the ground.”
All of Karrington Reed’s photos were of different foods. “There are not a lot of healthy options available, but I tried to show some of the options that are, and tried to get people to choose healthier options.”
The project started over six months ago with Health Careers Program Coordinator Jalacy Green, who graduated from Colleton County High School in 2012. “My girls really react to people listening, so when Dr. Nichols came down and taped their conversation, the quotes sound just like they talk. They’ve got the ‘like’s’ and the ‘um’s’ and everything,” Green said about the comments accompanying the photos.
“At first, it was just about the pictures. But I think they got really good stuff out of it because the last two quotes in the art exhibit said they didn’t realize what they ate until they started taking pictures of their food. And they didn’t realize how much we need things in the community — how much the crime rate and other things going on in the community are because we don’t have any recreational things for the kids to do after school,” Green said.
The MUSC study was designed to engage teens — the future leaders of the community who are interested in becoming health leaders and providers — in identifying and prioritizing health promotion and disease prevention intervention efforts, said Nichols. The project will help develop strategies to promote empowerment of youth, especially from under-resourced, rural populations, that focus on community change by offering innovative approaches to build a community’s capacity for sustainable change in health.
Nichols has written a manuscript for publication as part of the MUSC research project, LCAHEC Director Diane Mathews said. She doesn’t know if it will be accepted for publication yet, but if it is, Jalacy and her students may get to travel to a conference to see their work presented on a national level.
In the meantime, Mathews is hoping area residents will stop by the LCAHEC office beside Colleton Prep and take a look at the art exhibit. “It’s pretty impressive,” she said.

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