If you move it, they will come…

This was the mantra for the Summit Planning Committee this year, when they agreed to move the summit from Columbia to a new location.  The reason for this decision is that Eat Smart Move More South Carolina is a statewide organization, and that training opportunities, including the summit, should be offered throughout the state. Spartanburg was selected for the 2018 Leadership Summit for Healthy Communities. Over 200 healthy eating and active living specialists and community coalition members around South Carolina and North Carolina attended this year. They had opportunities to network and learn about strategies to improve access to fresh foods and safe places for physical activity.

“Spartanburg seemed like the perfect place for this year’s Leadership Summit, because this community demonstrates a commitment to healthy eating and active living in communities, schools, worksites and churches, through initiatives like Way to Wellville,” said Beth Franco, Executive Director of Eat Smart Move More South Carolina. “Hosting the event in Spartanburg just seemed right.”

Based on the feedback, many participants appreciated the opportunities to network and to learn about what other communities were doing. One participant said, “In additional to the wonderful information, there is a tremendous amount of energy generated by this conference that in turn energizes me to go back to my community and continue working hard to improve the health and wellness of my town.”

Fran Butterfoss, President of Coalitions Work; Dr. Darryl Owings, Superintendent of Spartanburg School District Six; and Christina Cody, South Carolina’s first Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Culture of Health Leader, served as keynotes speakers over the two-day Summit.

One of the highlights for participants was Dr. Darryl Owings’ presentation on Spartanburg District Six Farm to School program. Dr. Owings spoke about how his vision of providing students with healthy food options in school meals led to the creation of a district-run farm that produces organic fruits and vegetables for the schools year round.  The school district partners with Cragmoor Farms to manage a 49-acre farm in Roebuck, SC that produces enough fresh fruits and vegetables to feed students in the district. In addition to providing educational opportunities on the farm and in the classroom, the district hosts a farmer’s market to provide the community with access to organic produce as well.  Dr. Owings emphasized the importance of partnership as key to the success of this initiative.

“Dr. Owings had an amazing story to share, and hopefully with inspire other communities to realize that starting with a vision and building a plan and partnerships can lead to sustainable and exciting change.” said Franco.

Christina Cody, was another keynote speaker that was popular with participants.  Christina is a Wellness Coordinator at the Cherokee School District, was recognized as South Carolina’s first Culture of Health Leader that is sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.  The Culture of Healthy Leader program is a competitive leadership development opportunity for people working in every field and profession who want to use their influence to advance health and equity.

Christina shared, “Applications for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Culture of Health Leader program will be open in January for anyone interested in applying. This program is top-notch and is so rewarding. I would be honored to have another South Carolinian to work with on this venture.”

In addition to the keynote speakers and 20 breakout sessions, there were opportunities for everyone to be physically active.  Christina Cody led us in Squat Karaoke after lunch again this year!  There was also a Scavenger Hunt through downtown Spartanburg, and Yoga.

On Monday, ESMMSC hosted a reception to honor 12 local leaders who were nominated by their colleagues and recognized throughout the year with our Local Leadership Profile.  These individuals included a legislator, health worker, and a farmer.  Congratulations to these individuals and thank you for your service!