You can imagine the excitement of the B45 Executive Committee in February when Kaiser Permanente’s Healthy Eating Active Living program nominated us to participate in their HEAL Zones Initiative. Along with the Monument Community Partnership, our two groups have been working feverishly over the past 2 months to create a 3-year community action plan focused on Concord’s Monument Corridor.
The community action plan was submitted April 15, 2011 …and at this point, Kaiser and their amazingly talented evaluators are reviewing our work. While we anticipate some suggested changes in the plan, it presently contains an impressive array of proposed strategies intended to reduce calorie consumption, increase fruits and vegetable consumption, and increase physical activity in both community and institutional settings. Healthy and Active Before 5 proposed, and if approved, will guide the implementation of activities targeting children aged 0-5 years and their families. Some of these lofty proposed projects impacting this age group include:
- Create a breastfeeding friendly community, including developing and implementing baby-friendly policies at local health centers, childcare programs, schools and businesses.
- Increase access to, and consumption of clean safe water in the Monument community.
- Increase the utilization of Federal Nutrition programs, such as WIC, CalFresh and the Child and Adult Care Food program
- Partner with local child care programs to improve the offering of healthy foods and beverages and increase active play for young children
All of these activities would be done in cooperation with the Monument Community Partnership, an organization that has had years of success working with local residents and inspiring advocacy and policy change to make a healthier community. In writing our proposal, our work was guided by the Healthy and Active Before 5 action plan, as well as the successes of our “Pledge the Practice” initiative developed by and adopted by our Leadership Council. In almost all of the proposed activities, we used the resources and past experiences of Healthy and Active Before 5’s many partners, such as the Contra Costa Child Care Council, WIC, Contra Costa Health Services and First 5 Contra Costa.
In the end, we felt thankful to our local partners for inspiring examples of change within their organizations, and to Kaiser for giving us this opportunity. In the months ahead, we plan to work with our Leadership Council members to discover programs and interests that align with this Initiative. We see this project as a chance to pilot new programs that should reduce obesity rates for young children in this small geographic area. If these projects work, who knows? We hope to advance Healthy and Active Before 5’s mission to motivate healthy lifestyle changes throughout Contra Costa and make this a healthier place for all of our young children and families.
Diane Dooley, MD