Our Board of Directors provides distinct insights about the health and well being of the Athens community. One of our newest board members has a particularly deep history with Live Healthy Appalachia, one that dates back to a time when she was the only other staff member for the organization aside from our director. “I was the first AmeriCorps COMCorps member at LHA when Louise DiLullo was the executive director,” Michelle Oestrike recounted. Michelle’s service assignment was to coordinate the children’s program, which was then called Food is Elementary.

Now, as the president of the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce, this northeast Ohio native continues to support what LHA has done for the community. “What LHA does is encourage people to know that healthy eating is accessible and doable. They have a great way of collaborating with other organizations. Together, all of these food based organizations make these changes possible.” What at first seemed impossible has become possible.

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted included our very own Live Healthy Appalachia as part of the Ohio Business Profile program that is featuring not-for-profit organizations for the month of May.


Hillary Tabler
Emerson Crowl
Autumn Foley
Lucy Eckelberry
Hannah Mose
Joaquin Dagostino
Kayleigh LeMaster
Ashley Lockhart
Nicolas Benencia
Abby Stroh
Megan Cheadle
Mae Reese
Savannah Stover
Trinity Neel
Lexi Jordan
Baylor Cooper
Ruby Krisher
Kylie Snider
Abygayle Smith
Emily Beha
Nicole Bean
Jozlyn Bew
Lakyn Bowser

There will be a reception for all flag contest winners and their family on Monday May 1st at 6:30 p.m. It will be held at the Mayors Office in the Athens City Building, 8 East Washington St. We will be first on the city council agenda for a special presentation. Hope you can join us for this exciting event!

All good things must come to an end. So why not end on a fantastic note? After twenty-two weeks of learning how to make healthy meals and how to stay active, the kids of Live Healthy Kids are going to celebrate under one roof. This celebration is better known as LHK Night, and it will certainly be a fantastic ending to a good year.

“I am excited about getting all the different kids from different schools together and show their families what we’ve made [throughout the year], LHK Coordinator Laura Olbers says. “It’s cool to see the kids eating the food [they learned how to make] and meeting the junior chefs [from Hocking College]. Everybody involved has a lot of fun!”

When a picture takes hold of a moment, it can have the power to take hold of us. In that split second visual journalist Alexandria Polanosky takes a picture, the moment transforms into a story.
Working toward a photojournalism degree at Ohio University, Alexandria came to the world of photography during her last two years in high school. “When I was started applying for colleges, I realized I could do [photography] for a job. That’s how I kind of fell into photojournalism here,” the Pittsburgh native said during our interview.

But it’s not just the act of capturing moments that Alexandria cares about. It’s about the moments themselves and the stories that each captured moment unravels. With these stories come new connections with the people she meets. “I really love getting to meet so many people in the community and being involved in so many organizations,” she continued. With a strong interest in documenting agriculture and food, Alexandria has been using her talents to help promote Live Healthy Appalachia’s mission of healthy eating and active living.

When spring is in the air, so is that urge to feel renewed and inspired. The My First 5K (MF5K) training program does just that -- to bring that feeling closer to fruition by providing free hands-on training geared toward first time walkers, joggers, and runners. This year, the six-week training culminates in Race for a Reason on Saturday, April 22. This is the day when all of the hard-earned work is paid off. This is the day 5Kers race for their reason.

“The camaraderie and the schedule, which feels really comfortable, keeps me coming back and looking forward to each week,” says Katherine Hammond, a 5K trainee. “I enjoy running but have had an off and on commitment with it. After talking with a long-distance friend who runs regularly, she advised me to sign up for a 5K and find a running group. The next day I saw the LHA training program on Facebook; it felt very serendipitous!”

When people feel supported, they build their confidence to make changes for themselves. When they realize they have this power to make changes, they help others do the same. For Ruth Dudding, this support network is what keeps the Athens community working toward a goal to be healthier and stronger.

For our new Ask an Expert segment, Live Healthy Appalachia sat down with Ruth to talk about the importance of forging collaborations and building relationships. As a Certified Health Education Specialist at the Athens City County Health Department (ACCHD), Ruth has been known as an expert in teaching about healthy food and cooking. Her strengths, however, lie in her innate ability to connect people and provide support. Within the 17 years at ACCHD, Ruth has seen many exciting changes and with these changes, a cultural shift in the health mindset of the Athens community. Her role as a CHIP facilitator has also given her insight into what people are concerned about and how this course has given them the tools toward a healthier lifestyle.

In a circle at the West Elementary gym are 20 fourth graders stretching and getting ready to play a game for a new pilot program for Live Healthy Kids called LHK Coaches. Volunteer LHK Coach Julia Bowen stands in the center of the circle and guides the kids in a side stretch, arching her arm to one side. The kids follow suit. During this ten-minute stretch, Julia asks them for suggestions for a different stretch to follow. She takes a few suggestions as other kids remain quiet; some chat with their friends and a few burst out in laughter as they share stories.

Julia announces their first game. “Today, we’re going to play Lupo Manga Fruta!” Before she launches with the directions, she asks the kids what they think the language is. Wild guesses fill the air: Swedish! Mexican! Portuguese! After a few clues that included words like pasta and lasagna, the kids finally guess Italian. “So, who wants to be the wolf first?” Julia asks. A boy named Oliver volunteers. Soon after, Julia brings the rest of the fourth graders in a huddle so they could think of their fruit. Oliver, meanwhile, stands in the back, awaiting his role as the Lupo to begin.

We all love to hear a good story. For kids, stories bring them into imaginary worlds and encourage them to activate their creativity and visual thinking. For the second graders in Live Healthy Kids, these stories transport them to different cultures as they travel around the world, to countries such as Japan, Lebanon, Brazil and Ethiopia.

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