Welcome Chelsea Rae!

Last updated on: Published by: Ali Uscilka 0

Headshot - Chelsea Rae Sudweeks
Healthy & Active Before 5 has a new Program Associate! We are excited to welcome Chelsea Rae Sudweeks to our team. Most recently, Chelsea Rae worked at Planned Parenthood as a volunteer coordinator and health educator. She also led a program that connected teenage mothers with education and resources in the community.

As Program Associate, Chelsea Rae will be leading HAB45’s Pledge the Practice, Pass the Policy initiative. She will also manage evaluation projects and communications for the collaborative. We are so glad to have Chelsea Rae with us, and we hope all of our partners will have an opportunity to meet her soon!

Message from our Chair

Last updated on: Published by: Ali Uscilka 0


Dear Leadership Council members and community partners,

In 2018, Healthy & Active Before 5 continued to make progress toward our vision of a Contra Costa where all children are free to learn, play, and grow in strong, healthy, equitable communities. From supporting breastfeeding in the workplace with mini-grant funds to advocating for parks improvements in Bay Point, our collaborative members are making a big difference in the health and well-being of countless children and families. You can view a full summary of our accomplishments here.

It has been my pleasure to serve as Healthy & Active Before 5’s Executive Chair for the past year. In March we will welcome Susan Jeong as the new Chair. Susan is the Manager of Educational Services for Early Care & Education Programs at the Contra Costa County Office of Education, and also serves as the Coordinator for the Local Planning and Advisory Council for Early Care & Education. Susan is a passionate advocate for children who will be an excellent leader for our collaborative.

As our Executive Committee convenes to refine our collective priorities and plan for the coming year, we are tremendously grateful to our partners who attend events, pass healthy policies, reach out to us for collaboration, and work tirelessly for the health and wellbeing of Contra Costa children and families. We are excited to work with all of you in 2019!


Ruth Fernández, MA

Executive Chair, Healthy & Active Before 5

Deputy Director, First 5 Contra Costa

2018 Accomplishments

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Healthy & Active Before 5 is proud to share some highlights of our work in 2018!

HAB45 continued to make healthy choices the default choices in community settings with the Pledge the Practice, Pass the Policy initiative. 4 Contra Costa agencies received mini-grants for healthy policies through HAB45’s Pledge the Practice, Pass the Policy Program, supporting healthier environments for more than 1,000 children and 5,000 adults:

  • Food Bank of Contra Costa & Solano (Breastfeeding Support)
  • East Bay Town Center Dental (Healthy Food & Beverage)
  • Monument Impact (Deepening Implementation – Healthy Food & Beverage)
  • Concord Jr. Giants (Deepening Implementation – Healthy Food & Beverage)


HAB45 worked to expand access to safe, high-quality parks and outdoor play in low-income communities.

  • In Bay Point, HAB45 partnered with First 5 Contra Costa and the East County Regional Group to advocate for park improvements. Through presentations, public testimony, and individual meetings a total of 12 elected officials have been reached.
  • In Richmond, HAB45 supported First 5 Contra Costa the West County Regional Group to conduct an assessment of 25 parks. Residents completed a total of 288 surveys. Data was analyzed by HAB45 staff and presented to stakeholders.


HAB45 engaged its Leadership Council to build capacity and maximize collective impact.

  • 44 Leadership Council members attended the Spring convening to hear the latest research on the relationship between housing and health for young children and families, receive updates from local advocates, and brainstorm ideas for how to and connect with advocacy efforts to address the crisis.
  • 37 Leadership Council members attended the Fall convening focused on why and how non-profits and service providers can engage in advocacy. Attendees honed their advocacy skills in breakout groups and 12 members completed the HAB45 Advocacy Pledge.


HAB45 represented the early childhood community in broader efforts that impact families and advanced its Public Policy Agenda.

  • Served on the early childhood subcommittee for Contra Costa Health Services oral health strategic planning
  • Attended events related to the housing crisis impacting Contra Costa families
  • Submitted letters in support of policies related to park improvements, sugary drinks, lactation accommodation, tenant protections, and protecting immigrants’ access to social services

Thank you to our funders and community partners for making these achievements possible!

The First 5 Years of Life, Critical to Health Equity

Last updated on: Published by: Tonya Love 0

In May 2018, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation released a report entitled, “Early Childhood is Critical to Health Equity.”  As defined in the report, health equity means that “everyone has a fair and just opportunity to be as healthy as possible.” As stated in this report, it says that the conditions in the first five years of life are critical to shaping health for the rest of our lives.  We all want good health for our children but then why is it that certain groups go on to live healthy, productive lives while others go down a pathway of lifelong hardship, ill health, and piles of medical bills?  The report outlines the multiple pathways that show how the effects of poverty and racism experienced in early childhood can lead to poor health in adulthood.  For example, a family of color may experience racial discrimination when it comes to housing.  They may be forced to live in low-income areas with poor living conditions.  This causes chronic stress in parent(s) and in the child leading to suboptimal cognitive development, poor academic performance, lower educational attainment and lower income in adulthood.  Ultimately, this leads to poor health in adulthood and the downward cycle perpetuates itself to the next generation.

So, how do we stop this perpetual downwards spiral of poverty, racism, and health inequity?  Fortunately, there is hope for the future but it will require us to take a broader approach that goes beyond just programs, services, and education.  As stated in this report, there is evidence that intervening in early childhood has the potential to interrupt this cycle linking childhood inequity with lifelong poor health.  Current knowledge and evidence suggests that there is a need for “multiple, mutually reinforcing efforts” and that effective solutions will require changes at the structural, institutional, and policy level.  At Healthy & Active before 5, we do just that.

At HAB45, we recognize the importance of early childhood in shaping health equity and call to this plea by focusing our efforts on two main areas of policy and environment.  HAB45’s Pledge the Practice, Pass the Policy Program works with groups to adopt healthy policies, breaking the chain of unhealthy institutional norms and practices along the way.  When employees adopt healthy habits, they become role models to their children and families who likely follow suit.  By advocating for better parks, children will have more opportunities to play and socialize with other children.  While we acknowledge that changing institutional norms and culture won’t cure epidemics like obesity overnight, we recognize the tremendous power of policy and environment level changes to influence health in the places where we live, work, and play.