Healthier Generation supports juvenile justice centers in their efforts to help youth live healthier and to strengthen their transition back into their homes and communities. Our work is particularly important in these settings because good nutrition and physical activity can reduce violence and anti-social behavior, can be associated with fewer disciplinary problems, and can ameliorate anxiety and depression induced by adverse early-life experiences.
To create healthier environments within the juvenile justice system, we launched a pilot initiative in Arkansas and California to improve nutrition, streamline healthy food procurement, and increase quality physical activity opportunities for young people living in residential facilities.
During our first year, we applied our framework and knowledge of working with schools and out-of-school time programs to guide two juvenile justice wellness teams to make incremental, yet significant organizational policy or practice changes. We continue the pilot within California and Arkansas to inform a national effort to improve access to healthier meals, snacks, and quality physical activity for the juvenile justice community.