Whole Child Leon Thanks Community

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United Way of the Big Bend

TALLAHASSEE, Fla., June 21, 2013 – Success stories and successful outcomes will be the main topic of a press conference held on Monday, June 24, at 12:30 p.m. at Wesson Media Center. It is also a day to say thank you to all the parties involved in making the first year of the program such a success. "Whole Child Leon and the grant partners with whom we have collaborated feel so fortunate that Florida Blue has invested in the health of our community's children. It is truly rewarding to witness first-hand the positive changes in health behaviors that children and families are making as a direct result of the project," said Courtney Atkins, Executive Director of Whole Child Leon.

In an effort to:
1. Improve nutrition and increase physical activity among low-income Tallahassee children and their families in order to prevent and reduce obesity and
2. Increase the number of healthy food options through 95210 policy adoption in schools and the community-at-large, as of May 2013, TWPH has engaged the following:
• Approximately 15,500 Leon County School’s elementary students and their parents
• Leon County Head Start sites-- including 22 teachers and 6 center directors, with 325+ low-income, at-risk students
• 26 active healthcare providers in the community
• 12 Human Service Agencies
• 236 Early Learning Coalition childcare centers
• 38 low-income families received pantry-makeovers
• The launch of Growing Nutrition has provided 10 families with (2) 4x4 raised bed food gardens each and accompanying education
o Harvest Data shows the average family harvested and recorded 91-122 servings of vegetables in a 6-month growing window.
• Three new food gardens in food deserts/low-income designated communities have been established with over 200 individuals engaged in the projects.
1. Manna Garden has eleven 4x8 raised beds
2. Smith-Williams has three 4x8 raised beds
3. Sowing Seeds Sewing Comfort has nine 4x8 raised beds and a 40ftx40ft plot
• 5 community garden development/facilitation/trainings have reached over 125 individuals
• 67 low-income Tallahassee youth were trained as Preparing Youth to Participate (PYP)
o 7 youth presentations were conducted at churches, schools, and in front of local governmental decision makers
o An average of 70% improvement in youth knowledge & awareness of health and wellness, leadership and community gardening was achieved

"We worked to grow the capacity of families to take charge of their own health. That capacity looks like 10 new home and three new community food gardens. It looks like healthier pantries, home-cooked meals, and hundreds of trained health & nutrition youth leaders. We're made an impact in a year. Imagine what 10 years of similar work would yield?" asked Nathan Ballentine (aka The Man in Overalls).

City, County, and Statewide awareness of the 95210: TWPH message and grant team partnerships is being built:
• A website has been designed to visibly demonstrate the work of TWPH grant team: http://healthyleon.org/. The site highlights TWPH’s differentiating and engaging community involvement through: Video, Audio, Newsletters, Blogs and "Stories in the Community.”
• In addition to the 95210 tab that was created on the Whole Child Leon website, the 95210 Tracking System was developed to support data collection on individual behaviors and to share with partner agencies implementing 95210 with the children and families they serve www.95210.org.

Policy change has occurred:
• Leon County Community Gardening Policy was established
• City of Tallahassee’s Childhood Obesity Proclamation in September
• Incorporation of health and wellness elements into city plans—City of Tallahassee 95210 utility bill insert, City website with focus on physical activity, healthy eating and water consumption, 95210 messages play on City TV channel in waiting room where residents pay their utility bill
• Individual elementary schools are creating policy to ban sugar-sweetened beverages brought into lunchroom; eliminate sugary snacks for classroom celebrations.

"By engaging agencies, individuals, families, and organizations to work together toward the vision of the whole picture of health for Tallahassee, existing resources, promising practices and inspirational new partners are joining the cause," stated Project Evaluator Jennifer D'Urso of Evidence Based Wellness.

Another partner, P. Qasimah Boston of Project Food Now, said “As demonstrated, "Preparing Youth to Participate"(PYP) activities help kids to increase awareness and improve knowledge about health and wellness. Designed as a community-based strategy and a promising practice to address childhood obesity, the kids involved in PYP are now acting as health and wellness leaders throughout the community.”

The public is invited.

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