KC selected for program to fight childhood obesity

By on January 25, 2010

Grant funds “Making Kane County Fit For Kids”
Kane County—Kane County was awarded a $360,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to improve opportunities for physical activity and access to affordable healthy foods for children and families in the county.

Based on a rigorous selection process that drew more than 500 proposals from across the country, Kane County is one of 41 sites selected for the RWJF Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities initiative.

Kane County’s “Fit for Kids” initiative began in 2008 in response to the fact that one in six—or 16 percent—of all Kane children under 18 years of age are obese, a rate that more than doubles for Kane’s Hispanic and African American children countywide.

RWJF funding will support the “Fit for Kids” partners in engaging community members and leaders from all walks of life across the county to develop a comprehensive assessment of the changes needed in their communities to promote healthy living and prevent childhood obesity. This health-promoting vision will be incorporated in the county’s master land use and transportation plan updates.

Expected results include the advancement of Complete Streets policies and Safe Routes to Schools in multiple jurisdictions across the county; an increased access to safe places for physical activity in urban areas; and increased access to fresh fruits and vegetables through a community garden program.

“We are thrilled and honored to have been selected to receive this grant,” said Paul Kuehnert, executive director of the Kane County Health Department. “Working together with our partners, we are committed to making it possible for all of Kane’s children to have great choices for healthy eating and active living in all parts of their daily lives.”

“To reverse this epidemic, communities are going to have to rally around their kids and provide the opportunities they need to be healthy,” said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D., M.B.A., president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “Through this project, Kane County and its partners are doing what it takes to make sure children lead better lives.”

Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities is a $33 million national program and RWJF’s largest investment to date in community-based solutions to childhood obesity. With nine Leading Sites chosen in late 2008, the program now spans 50 communities from Seattle to Puerto Rico. All are targeting improvements in local policies and their community environment—changes that research indicates could have the greatest impact on healthier eating, more active living and obesity prevention. Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities is a cornerstone of RWJF’s $500 million commitment to reverse the country’s childhood obesity epidemic by 2015.

Visit www.healthykidshealthycommunities.org to learn more about the selected communities’ work and plans. Learn more about Kane County’s “Fit for Kids” program by visiting www.kanehealth.com/fitforkids.htm