BREC, in the East Baton Rouge Parish of Louisiana, held their free Commit to Health Showcase on January 11 at the Gus Young Recreation Center. Just over 60 adults and 50 children braved the rainy weather to participate in a host of fun games, food sampling, resource vendors, and win lots of prizes.
The “Excel Beyond the Bell Healthy Holiday Celebration” focused on healthy eating, physical activity, and community engagement. The event, held Tuesday Jan. 9 at Roberto Clemente Middle School in Montgomery County, Maryland, served over 100 students and 35 adult guests, including parents, school personnel and recreation professionals.
In 2017, 41 local park and recreation agencies received grant funding from NRPA, with support from the Walmart Foundation, to implement the Commit to Health program in their out-of-school time programs. Agencies have shared inspiring stories of kids excited to try new fruits and vegetables, thanks to the Foods of the Month curriculum, and who are energized by increased physical activity opportunities.
A nutrition coordinator for a summer program helped provide six weeks of nutrition literacy as part of the 2016 Out-of-School Time Programs Grant from NRPA and the Walmart Foundation. Each week, the coordinator visited 8 playgrounds and recreation centers and engaged hundreds of children in learning about the importance of healthy eating.
It’s hard to imagine that in nine months’ time, a vacant lot in the Dutch Kills area of Queens was transformed into a lively community garden to enjoy nature, promote healthy living, and engage local youth. Soon after being licensed and registered as a GreenThumb community garden, Windmill Community Garden’s development was set into high-gear with the help of the 2016 Disney Parks Build Community program.
"Please send me kids that can share my garden with the community," prayed Dana Caley as she stood on the soil that had previously not been successful as a community garden. Quincy Teen REACH was the answer to her prayer--a partnership which resulted in at-risk kids becoming gardeners and Dana's harvest being more than vegetables.
Bounce houses and balloon animals. Popcorn and painted faces. While this fair offered the traditional activities anyone would expect, what made our first Commit to Health Fair extra special was all the OTHER options available to the guests. The focus on healthy choices and physical activity was clear from the moment the doors opened until the last guest left.
The City of Fontana and the Fontana Unified School District has created opportunities for stakeholders in the community to collaborate to improve community services. One success story is being able to provide summer meals to youth (through the Summer Food Service Program) while being able to create and provide recreational opportunities that unite parties together.
You may have seen the popular YouTube video, 5 Extra Years, trending the past few years. If not, take a few minutes to watch. What’s the message behind this video? It’s simple and it’s brutally honest-- this might be the first generation of children to live shorter lives than their parents. Why? Childhood obesity.
Recreation agencies play an important role in creating healthy communities. As part of our Commit to Health partnership, my colleagues and I regularly lead workshops for park and recreation staff across the country. Today, I am excited to share an interview with Dawn K., program manager of SEASPAR - Special Parks and Recreation.
In 2014, Gwinnett County Parks and Recreation (GCPR) received the Commit to Health Out-of-School Time Grant from the Walmart Foundation and the National Recreation and Park Association. Funds allowed GCPR to introduce a new set of program tools to our summer camps along with the establishment of new community partners.
USDA’s Child Nutrition Programs provide healthy and nutritious food to children at need in an effort to fight hunger and reduce child obesity across the country. In addition to providing educational and recreational programming for youth, local park and recreation departments are also the largest providers of these meals programs during out-of-school times (summer and before and after school).
An initiative of LIveWell Colorado, the HEAL Cities & Towns Campaign has been successful in supporting local governments to develop and implement policies that support what essentially the NRPA Out of School Time grant seeks to support across the continuum of health.
The City of Syracuse Department of Parks and Recreation was one of 50 agencies to receive an NRPA and the Walmart Foundation’s Out-of-School Time Programs grants last year. Syracuse was able to use the funding to support programming by building partnerships within the community aimed at engaging more children and families as well as encouraging the adoption of healthy eating and physical activity (HEPA) standards within their program sites.
She lived in the middle of a food desert, without access to quality nutrition and with little supervision available at times when she wanted to play outside. Having just finished kindergarten, life in some ways already seemed futile for Ms. Lilly, whose neon orange-colored fingers were noticeable to many within her inner circle.
Through a generous grant from the Walmart Foundation, Out-of-School Time grants were offered for park and recreation agencies to increase the number of healthy meals served, incorporate evidence-based nutrition education, and implement healthy eating and physical activity standards into their sites.
The Salina Parks and Recreation Department (SPRD) was one of five Kansas communities to receive a Serving Kansas Communities grant to help support their summer food service program. In fact, Salina Parks and Recreation was able to utilize the grant to increase the number of nutritious summer meals served to community youth by 5.7 percent—up from 4,470 meals in 2011 to 4,726 meals in 2012.
In the face of serious budget shortfalls in 2012, Wichita Parks and Recreation Department (WPRD) was forced to close three of their summer meal sites and saw an overall reduction in the number of meals served compared to summer 2011. However, WPRD was able to do a lot more with what they had left—accommodating larger capacities and building the quality of provided services at remaining sites.