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Starting a revolution in West Virginia

Dr. Dino Beckett is a family physician and CEO of the Williamson Health and Wellness Center. He talks about creative ways to prevent and reduce diabetes and its impact on communities like Williamson, W. Va. (Video: Meena Ganesan/Washington Post Live)

Dr. Donovan Beckett at The Washington Post’s Health Beyond Health Care forum June 18.

“We have many health disparities: obesity, diabetes, hypertension. We had a lot of inactivity. Mingo County is a food desert. There’s only one grocery store, about 35 miles away, which is about a 50-minute drive. We have a lot of fast-food restaurants.

“We have been looking at ways to get people access to healthy food. We established a farmers market. We started a community garden. We have a program where we give vouchers to go to the farmers market; a lot of people don’t have the financial means to be able to afford . . .the better choices. We’ve done all this pretty much on a shoestring budget. We started a lunch-walk program, a friendly competition between businesses. Each business had about 10 participants and a team captain. They were all given pedometers; they would walk during lunch, or whenever, and track their miles.”

-Donovan Beckett, chief executive, Williamson Health and Wellness Center

Jenny Hudson, director of the Mingo County Diabetes Coalition, talks about programs like Tuesday Night Track and Healthy Selfies that promote diabetes prevention in Mingo County, W. Va. (Video: Meena Ganesan/Washington Post Live)

Jennifer Hudson at The Washington Post’s Health Beyond Health Care forum June 18. (Photo by Evelyn Hockstein/The Washington Post)

“Across from the public housing, we have a community garden, 36 raised beds now. We started with 24 and there was just a demand for more, so each one of those plots is rented out and we do classes at the gardens, too. So we’re teaching them how to grow healthy foods.

“We have Tuesday Night Track. This used to be an empty track, but now it’s Tuesday Night Track — TNT. Everybody just wants to be there. There’s something to do in town where there wasn’t before.

“We started You can go there and hear the stories of active living and healthy eating. You hear from our community about the change. Ben Lipps does a really good story. He’s a coal miner who started running. There are moms who’ve gotten their whole family involved.

“We are seeing a change in culture.”

-Jennifer Hudson, director, Mingo County (W.Va.) Diabetes Coalition


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