Churches expand access to programs in fight against obesity

Six churches have entered a shared-use agreement with the DeKalb Board of Health to encourage more youth and adults to become more active in the fight against chronic disease.

DeKalb residents can now practice Zumba, weight train, play basketball and indoor soccer, and join walking groups at six churches across DeKalb County.

The churches, in Atlanta, Decatur, Lithonia and Clarkston, are part of a shared-use agreement with the DeKalb Board of Health. They are offering low- or no-cost fitness classes and open gym hours to the public.

The DeKalb Board of Health's 2015 Status of Health Report shows that 38 percent of DeKalb County adults are overweight or obese, both precursors to other chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease. 

The  churches, ranging from Baptist  to AME denominations, are opening their doors to help youth and adults become more active in the fight against chronic disease.

District Health Director S. Elizabeth Ford said the initiative is another great example of making access to physical activity resources easier for residents in DeKalb.

“We challenge other communities of faith to join the movement, as we work together to improve health outcomes in DeKalb County,” she said.

The low to no-cost programs are funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) grant. The churches will open their recreational facilities to members and non-members. 

Participating churches include:

n Saint Philip Community Development Corp., 240 Candler Road S.E., Atlanta. 404-371-0749

n K.D. Moore Community Development Inc., 4007 Church St., Clarkston. 404-292-5686

n The Beulah Community Family Life Center, 2340 Clifton Springs Road, Decatur. 678-553-6039

n The Bridge at Austin, 1989 Austin Drive, Decatur. 770-713-5315

n Stronghold Christian Church, 724 Rock Chapel Road, Lithonia. 770-322-9010

n Tabernacle of Refuge Ministries Inc., 6954 Braswell St., Lithonia. 770-484-3498

For a complete list of facilities and hours of operation, visit

For more information on shared-use agreements and other DeKalb Board of Health wellness initiatives, e-mail or call 404-508-7847.