GoGarrettCounty.com is the newest initiative from the Garrett County Health Department’s Health Planning Council. The program has been designed to make county residents aware of the many health and wellness resources available throughout the county, while earning redeemable points that help support local business.

“Last year was filled with loss, stress and worry,” explains Health Strategist and Program Coordinator Shelley Argabrite. “This program was designed to be a hopeful new way to support healthy lifestyles and highlight local businesses, who have also been affected by the pandemic.”

GoGarrettCounty.com was launched just last December and already has over 170 registered users. Participants can watch videos online and earn points which can then be redeemed in their online store. Any county resident age 13 and over can register and the site is free to use.

Funding for the project came from a State grant aimed at unique ways of approaching health for all ages with special attention paid to chronic disease, particularly diabetes, a serious health issue in our area.

The initiative is an offshoot of the popular mygarrettcounty.com program that Shelley along with John Corbin, Informatics Administrator for the Health Department, implemented in 2016. While mygarrettcounty.com highlights area resources and makes information accessible to as many people as possible, gogarrettcounty.com takes it a bit further, highlighting videos submitted by community members, organizations and businesses to promote health and wellbeing. Participants are rewarded for simply viewing videos or referring friends to the website.

There is an open invitation to anyone in the county to participate as either a group member or content provider. If you work with a group, organization or business that offers wellness related activities or services, you can submit a video about how you provide well-being to our community whether it be mental, physical or spiritual. It’s a great way to get your name out to the public free of charge and help improve wellbeing. Once approved, the video is uploaded onto the gogarrettcounty.com website where registered users can then watch, become acquainted with your product or service and accumulate incentive points.

“Many of our great resources are being underutilized,” says Shelley. “People just don’t know they are available. Gogarrettcounty.com helps inform but instead of a program being based on a persons weight or keeping track of steps, here you can earn points and be part of the community while educating yourself.”

So far the program has highlighted Mark Boucot, CEO of Garrett Regional Medical Center and his message about the Covid 19 response in Garrett County. You’ll also find information about the Play Hard Live Clean program, a Child and Adolescent Wellness Workgroup, and a program featured at Mountain Laurel Medical Center entitled “Glucose to Goal”, an accredited Diabetes self-management education program.

GRMC also offers several Comprehensive Diabetes Education Programs. There is a test available at gogarrettcounty.com to help determine if you have pre-diabetes. According to Shelley, our area has a high prevalence of Type 2 Diabetes. What people may not know is that if they are at risk or pre-diabetic, behavior and lifestyle modifications like diet and exercise can reverse that trend. People may need support but can’t afford it. Programs like these which only require internet access, can connect people to the tools they need. Says Shelley, “We want people to be hopeful and take from this what serves them and leave the rest. It’s a new way to approach chronic disease.”

Because anyone can post appropriate content videos, you will also find information from local small businesses and community organizations. Thomas Vose, Director of the Ruth Enlow Library, provided a video tour of the library and information on how you can borrow books online. Featured businesses include The Vagabond Taproom highlighting some of their nutritious and delicious take-out offerings and The Tiny Corner Bike Shop with ideas about where to start riding in the area.

You’ll also find videos from service organizations like the Deep Creek Lions Club and fitness techniques and equipment from Jen Sober of Fit with Jen and a fun exercise routine from ReFit with Christie. There is also information about breathing exercises for relaxation and mindfulness, videos about aging well, the GC Composite Mountain Bike Team and more. New videos are uploaded weekly. Be sure to check out the Vlog by local nurses Jennifer Knauff and Jessica Carey as they take us through the COVID-19 vaccination process.

To redeem points, there is a convenient online market with dozens of fun prizes including Apple Air Pods, Instant Pots, Fitness Trackers, Kindles, Rachel Ray Nonstick Cookware, yoga accessories, meditation pillows, gratitude journals, and gift cards to local businesses like Browning’s Shop ‘n Save, Southern Auto Parts, Fit with Jen, and The Vagabond Taproom.

Anyone can submit a video whether it be a community resource like a church, library, agency or local business…Shelley just asks that you be clear in what you are offering and explain how it improves wellbeing.

Creating an account and earning prize points is easy. In addition to watching videos and reading articles about programs that may help you or someone you know, you can also earn points by referring friends and taking short surveys to help them create better programs and services and to improve those already underway.
The central hub that pulls everything together is found at mygarrettcounty.com, created in 2016, and has proven to be a valuable resource for our community. The Garrett County Planning Tool is essential for maintaining the Garrett County Health Department’s accreditation efforts which raises the bar for health departments around the Country. Here you can join various action groups that focus on different health and wellness issues within the county whether it be access to resources, addiction, medical issues and more. Both sites are part of the digital strategy offered up by the Population Health, Innovation & Informatics Unit and have been incredibly helpful to our community.

Shelley is excited for this new chapter in health and wellness in Garrett County. Register for a free account, and start getting rewarded for your wellbeing journey! Now more than ever, we need to stay positive, connected and active. Sign up today at gogarrettcounty.com and start earning. The program runs through October. For more information, contact shelley.argabrite@maryland.gov

Written by Linda Carr