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Sweet Victory: Sugary Drink Tax Passes in Berkeley



How did smallish Berkeley, Calif., become the nation’s first city to pass a sugary drink tax in 2014, after many other cities had failed? People power! Local health advocates like Xavier Morales had long supported a tax on sugary drinks, believing the higher price would discourage consumption. Research studies indicate that such a decrease in consumption could potentially reduce obesity and diabetes rates, especially for Latino kids. Because Latino children are heavily targeted by sugary drink and junk food advertisements, this issue was especially important to Berkeley’s 11% Latino community. In the end, it took passionate advocates, a well-organized campaign for a sugary drink tax, and national attention to eventually bring sweet victory for public health advocates in ...

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Chicago Schools Bring Daily P.E. (and Recess and in-Class Activity) to Students



Students at Chicago Public Schools weren’t getting enough physical activity and time spent in P.E., so district officials created a new department solely to improve the health and wellness of students. The department’s new chief health officer led the enactment of three new health policies and the rollout of a plan to bring at least 30 minutes of daily P.E. to all students. Soon students in grades K-8 will be getting a minimum of 150 minutes of P.E. a week, and all high school students will be required to take P.E. every semester. EMERGENCE Awareness: As the third-largest school district in the nation, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) are responsible for ensuring a healthy learning environment for its diverse student body (45% Hispanic and 39% black). For many years, the district ...

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Afterschool Bike Clubs Empower Physical Activity, Leadership for Students in KC



Middle-school students in the FreeWheels for Kids program are learning what it means to be leaders for healthy change. By bringing bike clubs to various schools and facilities across Kansas City, and its growing Latino population, this nonprofit is helping kids have fun and stay active, while teaching them how to fix bikes, build nature trails, and to voice their desire for a bike friendly community with bike-friendly streets. EMERGENCE Awareness: Benjamin Alexander was already an avid bicyclist when he started working at a local community center, where he mentored kids in Kansas City, Kan., which is 28% Latino. “I rode my bike to work every day,” Alexander said. At the community center in spring 2011, he was fixing his bike when a middle-school student asked him how he ...

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Rozarks Nature Trail Brings Physical Activity to Community in Need in Kansas City, KS



After learning that kids in Rosedale were at a high risk for childhood obesity, the Rosedale Development Association (RDA) decided it was time to do something about it. They learned that the community wanted more trails so they hired an expert who developed plans for a hike & bike nature trail to connect the community to parks and other key spots. With support from various groups and the local government, the RDA built over 2.3 miles of nature trail, all at a minimal expense. Families and children in the community are already benefitting from the trail and the group continues expanding the Rozarks trail network. EMERGENCE Awareness:  The Rosedale Development Association (RDA), a Kansas City, Kan., non-profit community development corporation, has worked since the 1940s to solve ...

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Veggie Gardens Are Grounds for Teaching Nutrition to Elementary Students



Hollin Meadows Elementary School, part of the 23% Latino Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia, has dedicated leaders and parents who value student health. A few years ago, they started a vegetable garden. Since then, thanks to the leadership of parent Shawn Akard, the school has: developed more gardens; brought in an “outdoor education coordinator” to oversee the gardens and programming; and helped students learn to grow and value new healthy produce. EMERGENCE Awareness: Shawn Akard, a PTA member and mother of a student at Hollin Meadows Elementary School in Alxandria, Va., appreciated the healthy changes going on in her district, Fairfax County Public Schools. She wanted to get involved. Learn: Around 2006, she talked with other parents to get ideas on how to get kids ...

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Creating a Culture of Fitness with Healthy Vending



What good is physical activity if you fuel up with junk food and sugary drinks? One leader in Arlington County, Va., realized that the absence of healthy drink and snack options at parks and public buildings was sending an unclear message to the community about the importance of proper nutrition for an active lifestyle. With overwhelming community support, he drove good-for-you options into vending machines in county-owned property and local schools, creating an environment that weaves both nutrition and physical activity into the fabric of neighborhood health. EMERGENCE Awareness: Families in Arlington County, Va., come from many different cultural backgrounds. Among the county’s 16% Latino population, this diversity is apparent. “The Latino population is probably a bit ...

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Teen Leaders Bring Fitness Trail to High School in Kansas City



What happens when youth are given the opportunity to lead their classmates toward a healthier school environment? The results might just amaze you! Teens involved in the 20-20 Leadership program at JC Harmon High School, a 58% Latino school in Kansas City, Kan., learned about the county’s high obesity rates—and they decided to do something about it. They developed plans for a healthy hub at Harmon High and later came up with the win-for-all solution of developing an outdoor fitness trail on school grounds. Now the school has a half-mile fitness trail and students plan to continue enhancing fitness opportunities by installing outdoor exercise equipment along the trail. EMERGENCE Awareness: D’Angelo Hicks was a junior at Harmon High when he first joined 20/20 Leadership, a 10-15 ...

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Boston Hospital Goes Sugar-Free



A hospital is a place for healing illness, and promoting health for new moms. However, many hospitals across the country still offer a wide range of sugary drinks in vending machines, gift shops, and cafeterias. Latino kids on average drink more of these sugary drinks their White peers. One hospital in Boston used a beverage policy to not only help patients make healthy drink choices, but also hospital administration, staff, patients’ families, and the local community. The Obesity Crisis Dorchester is a diverse inner-city community in Boston, Mass., where almost 20% of residents are Latino. Many of Dorchester’s low-income, high-risk factor patients get their medical care at Carney Hospital, a member of Steward Health Care, the largest fully integrated community care ...

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NYC Stickball Program Brings Physical Activity to Latinos in ‘El Barrio’



Kids in the predominantly Latino community of East Harlem (El Barrio) were in great need of physical activity programing and safe places to play. Alex Sabater and Deborah Quinones wanted to change that so they teamed up to create Young Bucks Sports, a non-profit aimed at preventing childhood obesity through teaching the sport and tradition of stickball to youth. Now Young Bucks Sports offers multiple activities to youth in Harlem for free, including: a summer stickball institute, pop-up playgrounds, a march to prevent obesity, and an annual festival with activities aimed at preventing obesity in the community. EMERGENCE Awareness: Alex Sabater loves stickball and loves to share the same with others in New York City (NYC). The game, which is especially popular among Latinos, is a ...

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