Program designed to address health issues in the black community

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COLUMBIA – A new program called Live Well By Faith was created by the City of Columbia to decrease the number of health disparities among African Americans due to high blood pressure and diabetes.

The city received a two-year grant from the Boone County Community Health Fund to address the issue in the black community, specifically in the black church setting.

 said that black movements have been historically birthed out of the black church.

“That’s one place we can go," said Verna Laboy, the program educator. "It’s powerful when we hear that message coming from our pastors, our ministers, our elders, our deacons, from across that pulpit.”

She has made contacts with 27 churches and 17 of them agreed to incorporate a health and wellness program into their ministry.

Fifth Street Christian Church was among those that thought the program would be a benefit for it's church community.

“We thought it was a good opportunity for us to partner with them to see what we can do for the congregation here at Fifth Street,” said co-pastor Erin Reynolds.

Laboy said she asked the participating ministries to select two people to become lifestyle coaches for their church.

“We, the City of Columbia health department, will educate and train those lifestyle coaches, who will then take the health information back to their church community, where we will monitor and track the progress,” Laboy said.

The program is designed to help churches receive supplies, materials, equipment, resources and any training they need to support the adoption of healthy behaviors.

Laboy said the program will be tracking people who take part in the program to see how their health might change.