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Parents Advocate for ‘Real Food’ for Kids in Fairfax, Va.



Parent organization Real Food for Kids (RFFK) aims to improve the nutritional quality of food served at the public schools in Fairfax County, Va. These parents want all students to get healthy, fresh food that will fuel their bodies for physical and educational performance. As stated on their website: “We know, just as you do, that when a child is well-fed with nutritious, real food, he/she is healthier, better behaved and better able to succeed in and out of the classroom.” By doing research and educating themselves, they discovered the volume and breadth of processed foods and foods with artificial dyes and additives being served at their schools, even though these foods were allowed by USDA nutrition guidelines for school lunches. The parent group advocated for a new ...

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Creating Healthier School Concession Stands in San Antonio, Texas



What happens when a school district’s wellness policy doesn’t cover student sports games or other after-school events? In one district in San Antonio, a Latino-majority city with approximately 63% of the residents being of Latino or Hispanic origin, a school board president drove a policy change to implement healthier menu options at concession stands during school-sanctioned after-school events. With the support of various school officials, parents, and students, the new menu extends the district’s already-strong wellness policy to after-school hours and allows healthier items for students and parents. EMERGENCE Awareness: In San Antonio, Texas, the North East Independent School District (NEISD), which has a population of about 67,000 students, of which 55 percent are ...

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Healthier Check-Out Aisles at the Wal-Mart in Anderson, Calif.



Latinos are the largest minority group in Anderson, a small city in northern California’s Shasta County. Already heavily targeted by junk food advertisements on TV, Latino children face the temptation of unhealthy foods every day, and grocery store check-out lines can be one of the toughest spots for kids to make healthy choices. In the fall of 2006, concerned Anderson students decided to take a stand against junk food in check-out aisles, and their impact rippled into many grocery stores across the country. EMERGENCE Awareness: A group of middle-schoolers in Anderson saw the daily struggle they and their peers faced at the grocery and convenience stores: a lot of junk food options at the check-out aisles. They were fed up with how the placement and heavy promotion of these unhealthy ...

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Unlocking the Gates: Playgrounds Open to Families in Spartanburg, S.C.


Two Young Girls Playing On Swing In Playground

In communities where parks and land-space are limited, shared use agreements are providing more areas of recreation for children. Spartanburg, S.C., for example, has a growing Latino population but not enough active spaces. Although the idea of sharing space in Spartanburg had existed for some time, formalizing shared use agreements between the City and two school districts—Spartanburg County School District 6 and Spartanburg County School District 7—took about two years. Thanks to the collaboration of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, the two school districts, and various community organizations, Spartanburg now has a shared use policy that keeps 10 school playgrounds open to the community during non-school hours. EMERGENCE Awareness: Since the late 1990s, members ...

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Passing a Complete Streets Policy in San Antonio, Texas



San Antonio pedestrians and cyclists will now have safer streets and walkways thanks to the implementation of the citywide Complete Streets policy. This San Antonio Complete Streets policy has not only helped those living in the city’s Westside, a largely Latino area, but has also paved the way for residents throughout the entire community to gain a better understanding of how an active-living-friendly environment can foster healthier lives. EMERGENCE Awareness: Health professionals, including David Clear and Kathy Shields of the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District (Metro Health), were beginning to see that obesity was a problem in the largely Latino city of San Antonio. Along with obesity, many also suffered from diabetes—of these, many were Latino. In 2004, Metro Health ...

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Promotores Bring First Park to West Chula Vista, Calif. in 25 Years



Promotores working with the Chula Vista Community Collaborative (CVCC) participated in an asset mapping project, in a Latino-majority part of Chula Vista, Calif., in 2000. As part of a $5,000 grant for an adopt-a-block project—a joint effort of the San Diego County’s Substance Abuse Summit VI and the CVCC—promotores spoke with local residents to learn about the neighborhood’s assets, health, and safety concerns. It was then that they discovered a lack of active space in the community, and that residents wanted a park. Eventually, the promotores teamed up with community agencies, gathered information, and presented their case to the Chula Vista City Council. After receiving city approval, they gave input for the park’s design and watched construction of Harborside Park— the ...

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Housing Developer Adds Sidewalks, Playground to Neighborhood in the ‘Colonias’



Not everyone has equitable access to places to play or be physically active. That is why a housing agency advocate, fueled by locally targeted research and focus groups of homeowners, created policy to include sidewalks, hike/bike trails, and a playground to plans for an affordable housing neighborhood in a colonia, an impoverished, highly Hispanic region of South Texas. Why Is Obesity an Issue in Colonias? Research indicates an obesity rate of 18.1% among Mexican-American preschool -aged children living in colonias—small, impoverished settlements that often lack proper infrastructure along the Texas-Mexico border. Colonias tend to lack sidewalks, street lights, places for recreation, and running water. Ann Cass, director of Proyecto Azteca—a non-profit organization that ...

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Community Transforms Train Tracks, into Hike & Bike Trail in Brownsville, TX



Having limited resources, partnerships and community involvement played a key role in transforming old train tracks into the Belden Trail in West Brownsville, a largely Latino town in Texas. A physician-turned-city-leader worked with community leaders and discussed ways to improve the quality of life for residents living in one of the most underserved and neglected regions of the city that lacks spaces for physical activity. The team’s persistence and belief in how this trail could transform the community helped them secure a statewide rails-to-trails grant. But the story doesn’t end there. Recently, the city added ADA approved sidewalks leading to nearby bus stops, developed a master hike and bike plan, and is planning for a community garden. Through teamwork and dedication to an ...

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Students Reclaim Streets with a Walking School Bus in Springfield



A predominantly Latino elementary school proves that morning exercise through a walking school bus program can benefit students, parents, and the community. Not only have school attendance rates increased, community engagement levels have increased, too. A Walking School Bus at Brightwood Elementary School in Springfield, Mass., now offers hope—and physical activity—to a community that not long ago faced fears of unsafe streets and high crime rates. Karen Pohlman, a nurse practitioner and community program manager for Baystate Medical Center, knew the community was struggling and wanted to improve people’s health, so she developed a plan to implement a walking school bus at Brightwood Elementary. EMERGENCE Awareness: Crime was high in the North End of Springfield, Mass., which ...

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