Coalition receives renewal on grant


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Healthy Jackson County is a collaboration of many organizations put in place to improve the health of the community.

The organization focuses on improving nutrition, increasing physical activity and decreasing tobacco use. There also is a task force in place to address the health care needs of Hispanic families in the community.

Jackson County, with Schneck Medical Center as the lead agency, recently was awarded a two-year $98,000 community grant from the Indiana Department of Tobacco Prevention and Cessation.

This is a renewal of the grant received by Schneck in 2019 to improve tobacco prevention and cessation efforts in Jackson County. That grant was in the amount of $75,000, which was used for new initiatives that typically weren’t being funded.

The purpose of the capacity grant is to bring new local partnerships together with a common goal of tobacco prevention and cessation.

The 2019 grant allowed Schneck to hire a part-time staff member, Dr. Tosha Cantrell-Bruce, as the tobacco capacity grant coordinator.

“Tosha has done a wonderful job with the group, building capacity within them and getting members involved,” said Bethany Daugherty, health and wellness education specialist for Schneck. “We are excited to receive a renewal of that capacity grant, which transfers us to this community phase.”

She said they are especially excited to receive the $98,000 grant so the workgroup can have more funds and support moving forward to achieve its goal.

Cantrell-Bruce said due to some of the really hard efforts of the coalition the past two years, they were approved for those funds for the next two years to address tobacco and nicotine use within Jackson County.

These efforts fall under four priority areas: Preventing youth nicotine use, reducing secondhand smoke, reducing adult smoking and supporting the Decreasing Tobacco Use Workgroup of Jackson County.

“Over the next two years, we will use the grant to support community conversations about tobacco and nicotine use and address promotion of nicotine targeted at youth,” Cantrell-Bruce said. “Also, to address tobacco use and secondhand smoke exposure to pregnant mothers and their babies through partnerships with existing Jackson County organizations.”

She said the grant will be used to support school districts in educating students and examining school policies on tobacco use and infractions and serve as a resource to Jackson County employers in reducing tobacco and nicotine use among their employees and at their worksites.

“Respiratory health has become a priority for many people during the pandemic,” Cantrell-Bruce said. “This grant helps Jackson County provide ways for people to maintain that focus in the long term by addressing tobacco and nicotine use, policies and secondhand smoke exposure.”

She said these efforts will only be successful if county residents and organizations support them.

Interest in helping the coalition does not commit a volunteer to being a coalition member year-round.

“The thing about volunteer management is sometimes, you may only be interested in one event and might not have the ability to volunteer every month, and that’s OK,” Cantrell-Bruce said. “We just really want to bring about more support to Jackson County in decreasing tobacco use and make sure we do that in a way that makes it mutually beneficial and convenient for you to help out with.”

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