Group strives for a more healthier Acadiana

— A mission to create a healthier Lafayette focuses not on eating less, but encourages more — more water, more fruits and vegetables, moving more and portioning food.

Leading that mission is the Healthy Living Club, a collaboration of more than 20 community organizations that launched its community outreach Thursday during a news briefing at Clark Field.

The goals of the group are to improve access to playgrounds to get youngsters active, educational initiatives to teach nutrition and help children and community members’ make healthier eating choices, and to improve access to healthy foods, said Kevin Domingue, chief executive officer of the Kiwanis Club of Lafayette Foundation during the kickoff event.

Last year, the Kiwanis Club of Lafayette Foundation received a $1 million grant from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation to fund initiatives that target childhood obesity. The group also has received $1.5 million in cash and in-kind donations from its members, Domingue said.

The grant will help some community partners expand the outreach of their current programs and help launch new initiatives such as community gardens and new playground equipment, he said.

Some areas of the community are food and playground “deserts,” meaning those areas have limited or no access to grocery stores with fresh produce or outdoor areas for kids to get outside and play, Domingue said.

“It’s not that we don’t know what are healthy choices, but some in the community may not have the access,” Domingue said.

The club practices what it professes. Before the start of its media event, Tyra Olivier of Creole Fitness taught the group some steps from an exercise DVD that will be available to the public as part of the Healthy Living Club’s outreach.

The exercise DVD is “culturally appropriate — meaning zydeco,” Olivier told the crowd.

Member organizations’ outreach also includes church congregations through Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center’ congregational health services program. The existing hospital program helps churches create health care ministries to teach nutrition and exercise, and offer other services.

As part of the Healthy Living Club grant, existing church partners will train other churches interested in creating a health care ministry team. The trainings will target healthy eating habits and exercise, said Linda Peters, a community liaison with the hospital’s congregational health services program.

Healthy Living Club members are: Acadiana Breastfeeding Coalition, Acadiana Food Circle, American Heart Association, AOC Community Media, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Acadiana, Boys & Girls Club of Acadiana, Bridge Ministry of Acadiana, Creole Fitness LLC, Focused Fitness, Harmony Consulting Services, Iberia Comprehensive Community Health Center, Jubilee Gardens, Junior League of Lafayette, Kiwanis Club of Lafayette Foundation, Lafayette Consolidated Government, Lafayette Parish School System, Our Lady of Lourdes Congregational Health Services, Second Harvest Food Bank of Greater New Orleans and Acadiana, The Family Tree, Thirteen Communications and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

Editor’s note: This story was modified on March 8, 2013, because in the original story The Advocate incorrectly identified Tyra Olivier as Tyra Cormier. The Advocate regrets the error.