It Takes a Community to Raise a Healthy Child
We all know that learning and practicing healthy eating behaviours and physical activity in schools help kids to grow up to be healthy adults. But it’s not just a message for school, or a singular message at home, it’s a message that should be reinforced in all environments that our kids experience. Children and youth should see and hear the same message no matter where they are, and that’s why the Ontario government is challenging communities to work together to help give children and youth a healthier start by launching The Healthy Kids Community Challenge.
Communities can now submit applications to the Ontario government for funds and other supports (up to $1.5 million over four years) to implement local initiatives that increase activity levels, improve healthy food choices and promote appropriate amounts of sleep for children and youth.
The Challenge is encouraging communities to build partnerships with local organizations including schools, as well as the public, private and non-profit sectors in order to promote healthy eating and physical activity for kids.
Activities can include after-school cooking clubs with dieticians, healthy breakfast clubs for children living in poverty and walking school bus initiatives. Municipal partners could include schools, recreation centres, parents, private businesses, health care providers and other community organizations servicing children and youth.
About 30% of Ontario children and youth are considered overweight or obese. Childhood obesity impacts health in childhood and beyond with 75% of obese children growing up to become obese adults. Adult obesity is associated with increased risk of chronic diseases and conditions, and these conditions are estimate to cost Ontario $4.5 billion per year.
Through an application process, up to 30 communities will be chosen to participate in The Challenge. Selected communities will be eligible for up to $1.5 million over four years in funding to develop and build on community based programs promoting healthy living.
When kids see the concepts they are learning in school reflected and reinforced through healthy practices in their families and communities, their learning is validated and reinforced. Children and youth are then more likely to adopt healthy active living practices and maintain them throughout their lives.
For more information on the program and how you can get involved can be found at Ontario.ca/healthykids.