Update February 2019: This program is no longer active but information here can be still be valuable.
In this five part series, Community Commons highlights the successes of the Ohio Department of Health’s Creating Healthy Communities (CHC) program. CHC aims to increase health and prevent chronic diseases in 16 Ohio counties through policy, system, and environmental changes.
Related CHC Articles:
- Improving Food Pantry Options
- Ohio Transforms School Food
- National Resources Lead to Active Communities in Ohio
- Ohio Grow the Seeds of Good Health
Educators spend a significant amount of time with children and are an influence on their overall health behaviors whether it is positive or negative. Ohio is training and empowering educators of both early childhood education as well as primary/secondary education in ways to create healthier environments to learn and play. Through a variety of programs around Ohio, educators are implementing nutrition and physical activity strategies to address and prevent childhood obesity.
An “Early Head Start” for a Healthy Future
Neighboring Adams and Brown Counties together run the Adams-Brown Early Head Start (ABEHS) Program. A hallmark of ABEHS is the use of weekly home visits to 75 income-eligible families with children ages birth to three. ABEHS, which has long provided support for social and emotional growth of children, has added physical health to its curriculum by training Home Visitors to use the Ounce of Prevention Program (Ounce).
Originally designed for primary care physicians as a way to inform parents on age-appropriate healthy foods and activity, Ounce was adapted for ABEHS with the idea that Home Visitors can better assess the challenges families face regarding healthy living and help them find solutions.
Ounce training has helped Home Visitors to better track growth data and to more effectively teach parents how to achieve and maintain healthy weights for their children. It has also led to a systems change: ABEHS now provides only healthy snacks for families during home visits.
Healthy Meals and Active Play Are Effective Tools For Appalachian Preschools
After seeing a steady increase in the rates of obesity and chronic disease in Washington County elementary school children, the local health department knew it had to look toward early childhood education programs to reverse these trends.
Training early childhood educators at area daycares in the Healthy Children, Healthy Weights program has led to positive changes.
Child-care center menus now include more fresh fruits and vegetables. Pre-fried foods and sugary beverages have been eliminated while whole grains have increased. Teachers also engage the children in more outdoor, teacher-led physical activities and have added sensory experiences such as gardens and outdoor exploration areas.
Putting Wellness at the Top of the Agenda
A healthy child is one that is ready to learn. For the past thirteen years, Lorain County has conducted Coordinated School Health workshops that encourage educators and school personnel to model healthy behavior and incorporate healthy living messages into their learning materials. Workshops have ranged from Creating Safe and Supportive Learning Environments to Strategies for Involving Parents in School Health to Healthy Fundraising Ideas.
This successful program has lead to policy changes such as reduction in junk-food in schools, creation of school gardens and walking paths, and the development of school health teams.
Intergenerations CATCH Some Fun
Coordinated Approach to Child Health (CATCH) is a national program that has been providing evidence-based solutions to childhood obesity prevention for over 25 years. Summit County brought the principles of CATCH to the Akron area by providing an all-day workshop to area child care providers and starting CATCH Kids Clubs at three after-school centers.
One program was hosted by The Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) of Akron. For six weeks participants of all ages learned about healthy eating and active living while having fun and interacting with each other.
CATCH training has also led to more teacher-initiated physical activities, healthier snacks and active living education at summer youth programs.
CHC is funded through the Preventive Health and Health Services Block Grant through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.