Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Commit to Health: A Review of Year One: Are You Committed?

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Commit to Health: A Review of Year One: Are You Committed?

Article excerpt

The first year of Commit to Health was quite exciting for NRPA, from the launch event with First Lady Michelle Obama in Miami to celebrating the 486 park and recreation sites across the country that have committed to implementing the Healthy Eating and Physical Activity (HEPA) standards. Although this is a great start to a five-year initiative and we certainly are taking a moment to celebrate this month, we don't want to lose momentum and are encouraging more park and recreation sites to join in this collective effort. Why is it important? Simply stated, this is the first generation of children who will live shorter lives than their parents.

Park and recreation agencies are increasingly a part of the critical solution to providing healthy environments, including access to nutritious foods and opportunities for physical activity for children. A recent article published in the peer-reviewed journal Preventive Medicine titled, "Promoting physical activity in out-of-school-time (OST) programs: We built the bridge--Can we walk over it?" (www.activelivingre search.org/promoting-physical-activity-out-school-time-programs-we-builtbridge-can-we-walk-over-it) describes the collective effort at the national level among OST providers, such as YMCAs, Boys & Girls Clubs, the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, National AfterSchool Association and others, to implement the HEPA standards in OST and address a public health issue--childhood obesity. Park and recreation agencies through NRPA's commitment to the HEPA standards are now also being recognized as part of this effort.

Two agencies that have had early success with HEPA implementation are Arlington County Department of Parks and Recreation in Virginia and Montgomery County Parks and Recreation in Maryland.

Arlington has made great strides in fulfilling its pledge to Commit to Health. In just one year's time, Arlington is meeting 16 of the 19 HEPA standards and best practices! This is positively impacting the health of approximately 150 K-5 youth across the three Kids in Action after-school pilot locations (http://parks.arlingtonva.us/programs/kids/kids-inaction). They could not have accomplished this goal so quickly without the substantial technical support from the Alliance for a Healthier Generation (https://host.healthiergeneration.org). The Alliance has conducted three staff trainings thus far to educate staff on using their Healthy Out-of-School Time framework and has provided them with countless additional resources. Capital Area Food Bank's Kids Cafe has been another essential partner in Arlington's success and continues to work with Arlington to improve the health of its offerings. …

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