I just spent the past few days at the Alliance for a Heathier Generation’s Healthy Schools Program Ambassadors Academy which brings together committed individuals advocating for healthier schools. It was inspiring to connect with parents, teachers, principals and even a superintendent who really get it. As in this video they showed us, “Leadership From A Dancing Guy,” I no longer felt like the lone nut but part of a bigger movement!
Here are some of the highlights that I took away from the experience which motivated me to step up my advocacy efforts for children’s health:
Places shape health: where we live, work, learn and play.
Policies and practice shape place.
I liked the analogy of childhood obesity as a river with many contributing tributaries. We brainstormed some of the causes and organized them into three main areas from left to right: social, environmental, and biological/behavioral. It’s striking how many fall under social.
I was happy to meet Annette Wilson, one of the driving forces behind Jumpstart Jackson. This a community wide health and wellness initiative created to make Jackson the “Healthiest City in Tennessee!” Their hard work led to Jackson, Tennessee being recognized as the “Most Livable” Small City in America.
Efforts like these are making a difference as some places are starting to see a decline in childhood obesity rates. Kearney, Nebraska saw a 13.4 percent decline in childhood obesity in just five years. How?
During this time, many of Kearney’s efforts to promote healthy weight for children were based in schools. The Kearney Public Schools district adopted a wellness policy in 2006, hired Wellness Coordinator Cari Franzen to lead its implementation in 2007, and then joined the Alliance for a Healthier Generation’s Healthy Schools Program. Heelan and Franzen also brought the case for a healthier school environment directly to teachers, who embraced strategies to make their classrooms healthier, such as replacing snack-based rewards with extra recess time.
Finally, who knew a public health video could make me tear up? I left the Ambassadors Academy motivated to work on making this the “Healthiest Nation In One Generation.”