Daily Archive for January 14 2010
KEYS 4 HealthyKids has been awarded a $360,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to improve opportunities for physical activity and access to affordable, healthy foods for children and families in Kanawha County. Based on a rigorous selection process that drew more than 500 proposals from across the country, Kanawha County is one of 41 sites selected for the RWJF Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities initiative.
In Kanawha County, 47 percent of predominately low-income children are overweight or obese. Not only do these children face health issues such as higher rates of type 2 diabetes and heart disease, they also incur higher medical costs and are generally less productive in school. As its name suggests, KEYS 4 HealthyKids will use a four-key approach to achieve healthy communities:
- The Key to Knowledge will emphasize the importance of eating adequate fruits and vegetables, limiting screen time, engaging in regular physical activity, and eliminating sugar-sweetened beverages.
- The Key to Eating Healthy will work with local merchants to sell fresh foods, enhance existing farmers markets, engage community members in gardening projects, and help daycares and after-school programs provide nutritious snacks and beverages.
- The Key to Youth being Active will help revitalize community centers and other play spaces, and assess and improve local greenways, trails, sidewalks and street crossings.
- The Key to Safety and Empowerment will address residents’ concerns and enlist them in efforts to help make their communities safer places to walk and play outdoors.
The initial focus of the effort will be on at-risk youth and families in the West Side and East End of Charleston, eventually expanding to other Kanawha County communities.
Dr. Jamie Jeffrey, a local pediatrician and director of the KEYS 4 HealthyKids initiative, said that she often encounters parents who are struggling to find affordable, healthy foods and safe places for their children to be active close to home. “I am so excited for this opportunity for our youth!” Jeffrey said, “We all want to be healthier and now, through this grant, we will be able to accomplish the policy and environmental changes needed to make our dreams a reality. “But,” she added, “we will need local residents to participate to have the greatest impact.”
“With the help of the RWJF and our partners, we will have an opportunity to work with after-school programs to adopt a comprehensive food policy to develop nutrition, health, and environmental guidelines that ensure meals, snacks, and beverages include healthy and sustainable choices,” added Kate Alie, West Virginia University Extension Specialist and project evaluator for KEYS 4 HealthyKids.
Krista Farley, director of Health Promotions for the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department, said the initiative also will “create an environment to engage and empower youth to be active everyday, in their own back yards.”
Encouraged by this opportunity to make long-lasting changes in the community, Judy Crabtree, Director of the Kanawha Coalition for Community Health Improvement, and Coordinator for KEYS 4 HealthyKids said “community mobilization and seeking meaningful environmental change are two strategies that research indicates can influence entire communities.” She added, “changing the world might be a little difficult, but you can certainly improve your neighborhood and impact behaviors and decisions regarding eating healthy and being active.”
Susie Salisbury, Vice-President with the Charleston Area Alliance, and member of Charleston City Council, said “I am impressed by the number of organizations that have come to the table to develop KEYS 4 HealthyKids and its strategic plan to address childhood obesity in Kanawha County. Both the City of Charleston and the Alliance are pleased to support these efforts.” (more…)