Communities play an important role in raising healthy kids, says Ruth Litchfield, ISU Extension nutrition specialist. “By building partnerships among schools, families, community groups and individuals, communities can create a health-promoting environment.”
Communities help raise healthy kids with sidewalks and bike paths. Their parks are accessible and safe, and they offer a variety of sponsored activities at convenient times for all ages, Litchfield added. “But one of the first steps of the community partnership is to conduct an assessment of the community – like Boone did.”
With money from a Department of Transportation grant, the Boone County Fit for Life Coalition assessed the community’s walkability and with the city engineers have identified needed changes – curb cuts for accessibility, sidewalk repairs and flashing lights near school crossings. (Learn more about the Boone project.)
Conducting an assessment helps a community prioritize and target its efforts, Litchfield said. “Identifying a common goal makes the partnership more efficient and effective.”
Litchfield is an author of ISU Extension’s Raising Healthy Kids publication series, designed to help parents, communities and child care providers address important health and nutrition questions. All the publications in the series are available at no charge from ISU Extension offices or from the ISU Extension Online Store.