According to the World Health Organization (WHO) non-communicable diseases account for over 80% of the deaths in Armenia. Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death in Armenia, accounting for 54% of total deaths. And tobacco consumption is rising rapidly, varying between 64.2% and 69.4% among men in the 24 – 65 years age group. Certain habits, such as balanced food, regular exercising, avoiding smoking and alcohol are considered to be the simplest methods to avoid serious heath problems, and are very often neglected, though. It’s widely known that the key to the healthy life starts from childhood. American Peace Corps (APC) and Armenian Red Cross Society (ARCS) work together to find out new ways to raise awareness about healthy lifestyle among children.
Thus ARCS and APC youth volunteers realized “Border to Border” program, which was a marathon combined with the seminars about healthy lifestyle organized in the remote communities of RA aiming at raising awareness about children’s health including proper nutrition, exercising, and advantages of non-smoking and drinking.
Though many organizations have developed info materials promoting healthy lifestyle, many of these resources have not reached the 2/3 of the inhabitants living far from Yerevan. So the goal of the “Border to Border” program was to inform young people living in the villages using simple methods.
The marathon, which lasted 17 days, started on 3rd June; two groups, each consisting of 6 American volunteers, walked towards each other from Armenian-Georgian and Armenian-Iranian borders. Each group walked 275 km, after which the groups met in Yeghegnadzor, where on June 20th a final and summing –up event took place.
Along with walking, the volunteers distributed thousands of information materials about children’s health focusing on correct food, exercising, and avoiding smoking and alcohol. APC and ARCS volunteers, cooperating with local community members and representatives of NGOs organized interactive seminars for 450 children in 11 communities of RA in the framework of the marathon. The team also spread information materials about ARCS and APC in Armenia. “Border to Border” program will be an example, how marathon-walk can be used as a symbol for keeping health and stressing its role.