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Steps to a Healthier DeKalb Leaves a Legacy of Health Improvements in South DeKalb

Delicious green beans and herbs grow in a once barren piece of land at Bethesda
Cathedral on Austin Drive. During a growing season, more than 350 families learned
gardening and healthy eating tips.

A group of dedicated community members, government employees, health advocates and
elected officials created the Belvedere Active Living Plan. This led them to design and
find funding to build a safe walking path. The Shoal Creek Trail now connects hundreds
of south DeKalb families to fun and exercise at Shoal Creek Parks I and II.

Teens learned about the dangers of smoking and second-hand smoke and used their
newfound knowledge to foster passage of the DeKalb County School System’s 100
percent tobacco-free policy. Through this policy, the lives of 113,000 children and staff
are instantly impacted. Tobacco use is now forbidden on all school campuses.

These are just three dramatic examples of the health changes initiated by the DeKalb
County Board of Health’s Steps to a Healthier DeKalb program. The five-year project,
funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Steps to a HealthierUS,
ended September 21. It touched thousands of lives and worked with over 200 community

Steps to a Healthier DeKalb instituted programs, used social marketing campaigns,
education and proven policy, system and environmental strategies to reduce the burden
of chronic diseases by encouraging people to become more physically active, make
healthy food choices and to stop tobacco use.

“This creative health program used a variety of interventions implemented by numerous
partner organizations to make a significant contribution to get people moving, eating
more healthy foods and supportive of tobacco-free environments,” said S. Elizabeth Ford,
M.D., M.B.A., district health director of the DeKalb County Board of Health.

Our prevention efforts work to reduce chronic disease, provide people with healthy food
options and to get our children and adults engaged with more physical activities
continues,” says Jewell Martin, MHSA, the new Program Manager of Health Assessment
and Promotions at the DeKalb County Board of Health.

The Board of Health is offering a free colorful, 31-page report, Connecting with the
Community, that highlights the Steps to a Healthier DeKalb community activities. A
copy can be downloaded from To request a hard copy, contact
Health Assessment and Promotion, at 404-508-7847. The number of hard copies is