Shanna Sykes is a Rural Health
and Nutrition Agent with Clemson Extension and she’s
based in Anderson County where she has several programs going
on. So let’s talk about that. What’s the overall goal of your
team? So our team is to improve rural health. and nutrition just like our title says. So you know areas that really just bringing in whatever we can to the community and helping them. We
have grants and obesity. We have grants like I work with is
reducing infant mortality, reducing childhood obesity,
promoting cancer screenings and working with reducing opioid
addiction. Gracious! We have a lot of programs going on in South Carolina. Let’s talk about some of the ones you’re involved in. So one of the big ones that we’re doing right now is the infant mortality and beneficial
for breastfeeding so we know it really helps with babies and
helping their life span. We have We are a donation site at our
office. So women if they produce excess breast milk they can
actually donate it to us where we will send it to M-U-S-C. They
pasteurize it and they’ll send it to the NIC Us in the state
to feed preemie babies. And so it’s really great. An ounce of
breast-milk can actually feed a premature baby for a day.
We’ve actually had about a thousand ounces donated so far.
That’s pretty exciting. It really is. But beside that you’re trying to offer support to local women who want to breastfeed and maybe don’t have
a mentor or a mother or sister. How are y’all doing that? Some
of our counties we actually have breastfeeding classes that
we provide. I have opened the first ever in the state of
South Carolina Baby Cafe, which is a support group for
breastfeeding women. It can be, if you are breastfeeding, if you
want to breastfeed, if you had breastfed in the past and you want to support other women. So I’m a certified lactation counselor. They can come to us. We don’t require appointments. We have no income restrictions. We’re open once a week and they can come in and just get support and you know we have a really comfortable environment where they can lounge on pillows
and breastfeed. We have light refreshments. It’s just a really
great atmosphere. Do you get responses back that people feel like it’s helped them to become? Yes. successful? It’s a great, especially if you’re having issues with breastfeeding and
you know you can’t quite get into the doctor or their
benefit. Or they’re limited in what they can do
with her health insurance. And they’ve got the support in
the hospital system but sometimes you know they might
slip through the cracks afterwards. And they don’t
really have that support. They can come to us and we can help
them with it. We got these little babies and then they’re growing up and then we’ve got sadly some obese children in South Carolina. And I think that’s another issue that you’re addressing. It is. We don’t’ know their rates just because it is so new with the
childhood obesity. But right now what we’re doing in our
county is, there are five districts in Anderson. And so we
had a couple of them that applied for this grant and it
is through M-U-S-C Boeing Children’s Center. They have
been doing it for about eight years but they picked Anderson
County and we got District four in our county. And so the school
system. what it is is each school. They’re six in that District. So each school has a wellness committee that they put
together. They pick a leader and they must meet four times a
year on this Wellness committee. And so really what they’re trying to do is, ‘What can we do in our school system to improve
nutrition, physical activity? What can we do for our
well-being?’ And so it seems like you know and nutrition. Did they have tastings? If they have four tastings in a year, they can claim points for that. To get kids to try different foods like vegetables, fruits. And you know unfortunately you think about some of these kids their only meal that their getting is in school. And so this is
really in helping them get things that they don’t ever see
before. And so physical activity they’ll have field days, things
like that, anything where they can really increase their physical activity. And they get a point system for it and so at the end if they hit a certain amount of points, they get a cash prize and then the winning school wins an additional cash
prize. And so they can put that money back into the school
system, purchase equipment or something that they need. I
think that’s pretty exciting. And you said this has been going
on although not in Anderson but in other parts of the state.
Does it have a good track record? Yes I believe it’s been
going on about eight years. I think. It’s been going on
for a while and they do have, I don’t have it with me. But they
have a book where they print out and they show the outcomes
for these schools. And I mean it’s great. You know. You get so
many comments and you know they do wonderful things. I remember
one of the schools had a tasting. And they did
berries and one of the little boys had never seen a
blackberry before. In South… Yeah! Never had a blackberry, never seen a blackberry. I mean these kids and they love it. So they want to they want to keep doing things like this. And
with the adult population hypertension leads to stroke
and all. Is it the silent killer? Cause a lot of people that get hypertension. They really, there’s not a lot of symptoms you don’t know you have it
until well you go to the doctor. But we also has a
hypertension class that we can teach in our county. And its
really tailored for you know whoever wants it. It’s an eight week course at an hour, about an hour for
class. But it goes over nutrition, physical activity,
medication, stress management and making long-term goals. And
so it’s really great course that they just go through everything and how to manage
their hypertension or how to prevent or reduce the risk of
getting hypertension. Y’all came to visit us at our studios in Sumter and talked about reducing salt and it was
interesting to see. There really is, it’s a small amount of salt that you should have every
day. Are people surprised sometimes when you start giving
them the correct information? Do you think that
just receiving the correct information can be beneficial.
Well with the salt that you mention it’s it there so many
modifiable risk factors. So salt and you know lack of physical activity. When you, when you’re giving them tools that are they’re easy to change. Then
you know most people are really excited. But they’re also. You
know when you open their eyes to showing them how much salt is
in something you know looking at food labels but also twenty four hundred milligrams is not a lot of salt. That’s a teaspoon of salt. but most, that is what the average American. Now doctors will sometimes put
them on lower salt, fifteen hundred
milligrams or less for salt intake. But you know
just giving them the tools to help them really decrease how
much they’re getting and they see such great outcomes
from just a small move like that. I think it’s interesting
the extension started out trying to help people have
enough food and and of course they were working themselves all the time. So much exercise
in the fields. But we see that extension is changing
as lifestyles change. It has it it really has. We still do the agriculture side. We’ve actually had the ethnic program,
which is the expanded food nutrition education program.
That’s actually we’re about to celebrate the fiftieth year.
So that was something extension has done.
So we’ve had the nutrition. We’ve had the you know that the
physical activity before but this health, rural
nutrition and health is just brand new for them. We’ve been
doing it for about a year and it’s really starting to expand in most counties. I
think that it is important that as things, as new problems and
situations arise that Clemson is expanding its team of people
to go out there and take the research-based information
as you’ve done like with the Boeing program, through the medical university and tailor it to specific groups that we
encounter in the state. When you see communities, communities you know it’s not just one individual,
you see all sorts of different types of people and so
that’s really what you know being a health Extension agent
is working with different demographics. You know we work
with all sorts of races, ages, lifestyles anything. And that’s
what part of a great program is You really tailor it for it to be focused for them. I want to thank y’all
for what you doing and for sharing that
information. Thank you. I love, I love doing it so.