A Systems and Policy Approach to Ensuring the Health of Children
Many people are familiar with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation’s (Healthier Generation) Healthy Schools and Healthy Out-of-School Time programs. Schools and out-of-school time programs that participate in Healthier Generation’s site-based initiatives provide healthy foods, physical activity, STEM education and opportunities for children to feel valued and to learn to value their own health and wellness.
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As our CEO Dr. Howell Wechsler recently discussed on the Add Passion and Stir podcast, The Real Looming Financial Crisis: Health Costs for Poor Kids, childhood obesity rates have leveled off, but we are not out of the woods yet. Nearly one-third of children are overweight or have obesity. This continues to be an epidemic in our nation and it will take the involvement of all sectors of society to ensure that our children have the opportunity to grow into healthy and productive adults. You can hear more of Howell’s amazing story on the podcast, and learn how a wager over a case of beer turned him into a lifelong advocate for children’s health.
Did you know that Healthier Generation also works with the health and business sectors to ensure that they promote children’s health? We work with corporations to form voluntary agreements that make healthier food more accessible to children and their families. Through business partnerships, we also assist schools and afterschool programs in accessing healthier foods so they can easily comply with federal nutrition standards. For example, this year we launched the Healthier Generation Store with Amazon Business, which allows schools and out-of-school sites to access healthier snacks that align with the Smart Snacks in School and National Afterschool Association Healthy Eating Standards, no matter where the organization is located or how many students they serve.
Our health care work focuses on ensuring that children receive appropriate medical care for overweight and obesity and that medical providers are equipped to speak to children and their families about nutrition and physical activity. This area of our work includes the Healthier Generation Benefit, the Innovation Award for Health Care Provider Education and the My Healthy Weight initiative. In addition, Healthier Generation sits on the Prescription for Activity Task Force which recently released a white paper about mobilizing the health care sector to ensure that more Americans are physically active.
Not only does Healthier Generation help with the development and implementation of robust local wellness policies, we also work on local, state and federal policy efforts to improve school and out-of-school time health environments. Our work with Voices for Healthy Kids and on the Every Student Succeeds Act ensures that there is overarching policy support to sustain the healthy changes that schools and out-of-school time sites are working so hard to make.
So the next time you think to yourself, the Alliance for a Healthier Generation makes schools and out-of-school time sites healthier…remember, we do that and so much more! We are working with multiple sectors to ensure that children have a healthy environment from the time they wake up until the time they go to sleep, throughout their lives. It is only through this type of coordinated effort, and our collaboration with multiple partners, that we will begin to see childhood obesity rates decline.