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Grant Allows Implementation of Wellness Initiatives in Freeport, IL

The University of Illinois College of Medicine Rockford is part of a collaborative project to address obesity and chronic disease that will now include a new faith-based wellness program thanks to a $114,000 grant from the United Way of Northwest Illinois.

Faithful Families Eating Smart and Moving More Program is the newest program of Win With Wellness, a federally funded, community-based, collaborative partnership that works to address the high rates of obesity and chronic disease in Stephenson and Carroll counties. This new, nine-week program promotes healthy eating and physical activity in communities of faith by addressing individual behavior; family norms; organizational policies and environments; and community-level change.
Eight to 10 families in five different faith communities in Freeport, Ill., will be recruited to participate in the Faithful Families curriculum, according to Manorama Khare, Ph.D., research assistant professor and associate director of community and evaluation research in the Department of Family and Community Medicine, who is the co-principle investigator for the Win With Wellness Program. She’s leading the team of evaluators for the program from the College of Medicine that includes Dr. Martin MacDowell, research professor; and research associates Vicki Weidenbacher-Hoper and Rebecca Lyons.

Assessments of the food environment and walkability of each faith community will also be completed and action plans will be developed if improvements are needed.
“More than 60 percent of adults in this county are either overweight or obese, putting them at risk for chronic disease,” says Dr. Khare. “This funding enables us to reach high-risk, underserved, hard-to-reach populations with wellness programming.”

Win With Wellness started in 2015 with the University of Illinois College of Medicine Rockford, Stephenson and Carroll County Health Departments, and Freeport Health Network. Since then the Monroe Clinic Health System, United Way of Northwest Illinois, Freeport School District and OSF Saint Anthony College of Nursing have joined as partners.