Study ranks Danville 3rd most unhealthy community in the Commonwealth

By Colter Anstaett - Southside Bureau Reporter

DANVILLE (WSLS 10) - iChoose is a collaboration between Virginia Tech researchers and community organizations in the Dan River Region.

It has been successful so far, but now the challenge is getting the funding to keep it going.

"It's very important that he get the weight off being so young and it's very important that I get the weight off because I'm getting older," said Wanda Breedlove explaining why she and her son chose to participate in the program.

Breedlove says going through the iChoose Program with her son has made both of them healthier and brought them closer together.

"We actually talk more, we're open."

According to a report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 24 percent of Danville's population is in fair or poor health.

That's compared to the state average of 14 percent.

Additionally, 69 percent of Danville's population has access to exercise opportunities whereas the state average is 81 percent.

Martinsville, Pittsylvania County, and Halifax County all have similar numbers.

Bryan Price is in charge of logistics and program management for the iChoose Program and says getting more grant money to keep the program going is vital to continuing the success of the program.

"We don't want to lose that momentum," Price emphasized. "We've found through previous studies that we've done, the longer you are inactive the more likely the parents and the children are to go back to their previous habits."

Virginia Tech professor Dr. Jamie Zoellener coordinates the program.

In an effort to make the program more successful in the future, a focus group has been created with parents who have gone through the program.

"They've been giving us ideas about what they think will work for their own families and for other families in the region."

The goal is to develop a 12 month maintenance program to help families stick to the healthy habits they learned.

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