Scott Co. ranked most unhealthy in Indiana for 5th year in a row
SCOTTSBURG, Ind. (WDRB) -- Ninety-two is a number from which Scott County just can't get away. There are 92 counties in the state of Indiana, and for the fifth year in a row, Scott County ranks 92nd in health.
County officials say a task force was created in 2010 to tackle the problem, when they were first ranked the least healthy, but there's still a lot to be done.
"Everybody thinks 'we gotta lower the blood pressures, we gotta get everybody eating well and exercising -- and that's all true -- but, we can do all that, and that's still not gonna move the needle for us," said Scott County Partnership Executive Director Jene Bridgewater.
Bridgewater says poverty is the root of the problem and it trickles into many factors weighed by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation program at the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute for the rankings.
According to their data, compared to the rest of Indiana, Scott County has higher unemployment. Bridgewater says for two years straight, they had the highest percentage of children living in poverty.
"We were at 34 percent," he said. "That's now down to 28 percent."
County officials have taken on a number of programs to combat their rankings the past five years through a task force, but they're still way behind in clinical care. The most recent data shows there's more than 3,400 people for every one mental health provider in the county.
"Our medical community is really addressing the need for more providers," Bridgewater said.
The graduation rates are also down and the county has a lower rate of kids going to college than the rest of the state. Many of the "Get Healthy Scott County" coalition programs are happening in schools.
Scott County School District 2 Assistant Superintendent Mark Watkins hopes to make a positive impact on students using personal experience as a triathlete.
"I came up with the tag line, '92 won't do,'" Watkins told WDRB.
"Coming into the schools, I thought it would be nice to have them sign some sort of a pledge -- a pledge that they are going to be involved in a healthy activity for 92 days to help build that as a habit," Watkins said.
Watkins says he hopes to raise money for bikes, and start a mini triathlon for kids who complete the program. He also hopes his next Iron Man race with his 17-year-old daughter will inspire the students.
Watkins says the school board will vote Tuesday night on whether or not to add a school sponsored football program for middle and high school students. The district recently added more levels of basketball teams at different grade levels, but Watkins said the football program could include up to 100 students. It's all part of the effort to instill more healthy practices for kids physically and academically.
For a list of Kentucky's county health rankings, click here.
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