Changing Children’s Lives by Transforming School System Policies
Special Projects Fund
January 1, 2007
Recognizing that obesity in youth has lifelong negative effects, including increasing the likelihood of developing serious chronic diseases, such as diabetes and hypertension, this project sought to reduce obesity rates for Niagara-area children by identifying and recommending new school system policies and other environmental changes to promote healthy eating and increase physical activity.
The childhood/adolescent obesity rate has either doubled or tripled (depending on age) over the last three decades. This grant to the Health Association of Niagara County supported a program to fight obesity in children. The long-term goal of the project is to help the children and adolescents of Niagara Falls achieve a lifetime reduction in chronic disease.
The program targeted policy changes at the school-system level, and environmental change at community-based program sites. Major program activities included: (1) facilitating a review and revision of school nutrition policies (e.g., nutrition menu content, vending machine content, and vending machine access); (2) assisting with the pilot testing and possible implementation of Fitness Report Cards that include such measures as Body Mass Index, aerobic capacity, and brief parental advisories; (3) implementing the “Stop Light Diet” curriculum with parental engagement in community-based after-school programs; and (4) introducing an adapted “Adult Health and Development Program” with college student mentors.
The Health Association of Niagara County is a nonprofit agency that promotes wellness, independence, and good quality of life through its caregiver, senior, and child care programs. The Association is working with community-based partners to achieve the goals of this program.