Newswise — Dallas ― Over the last two years, Voices for Healthy Kids, a joint initiative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the American Heart Association, has directly supported more than 50 coalitions, in 20 cities and states, working to help all young people grow up at a healthy weight.
Since its launch in 2013, Voices for Healthy Kids has funded efforts to: open more grocery stores in low-income communities, unlock schoolyard gates so families could have a safe place to play, ensure sugary drinks were no longer served in childcare centers, and secure funding for sidewalks and bike paths in communities that needed them.
“Voices for Healthy Kids is truly a driving force of the national movement for healthier communities. We focus on communities striving for healthy kids,” says Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association. “Many have been working to help all kids grow up at a healthy weight for more than a decade, but they needed more support to reach the tipping point. We are here to provide communities that support.”
The achievements of this past year of Voices for Healthy Kids are highlighted in 2015 Voices for Healthy Kids Progress Report: Transforming Communities, Changing Lives, released today, as Voices for Healthy Kids launches its third year of movement-building work. Key highlights in the progress report include: • Increasing access to safe places to be active for more than 29 million people in Arizona, Ohio, Iowa, Minnesota, Washington, and West Virginia • Providing healthier school snacks for more than 4.5 million students in Florida, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, and Utah, including 2.5 million low-income children. • Increasing access to affordable healthy foods in Alabama, Louisiana, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma and Texas. • Serving healthier drinks to young children and helping all families rethink their drinks in Illinois, Maryland and California.
“Each and every one of these efforts has played an important role in our progress so far, and gives us powerful momentum as we continue our work in the future,” emphasizes Brown as she reflects on the progress made during the second year of the initiative.
The coalitions supported by Voices for Healthy Kids have made a significant step toward helping all children grow up at a healthy weight. The policy changes they helped create have a potentially wide-reaching impact: the cities and states where they happened are home to 36 million people, more than 10 million of whom live in low-income communities or communities of color. But all involved know that the work is far from done.
A couple years ago, Minnesota created one of this first state safe routes to school programs in the nation and this year secured $1 million in funding for infrastructure in the capital investment/bonding bill. “We couldn’t have done it alone or without support from Voices for Healthy Kids and the Minnesotans for Healthy Kids Coalition. They were the perfect partners in this success,” said Dorian Grilley, the executive director of the Bicycle Alliance for Minnesota.
As the third year of Voices for Healthy Kids gets underway, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has provided $16 million in funding for the year. This year, Voices for Healthy Kids will be working across the nation with the vision that every child can have healthy foods and drinks at home and in school, safe streets for biking and walking, and places to play after school. With thousands of volunteers and dozens of organizations involved, it is possible to ensure that the places where children live, learn, and play make it easy and enjoyable for them to eat healthy foods and be active.
ABOUT VOICES FOR HEALTHY KIDSVoices for Healthy Kids® is a joint initiative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the American Heart Association (AHA). The collaboration is working with communities across the nation to ensure that children have access to healthy food and physical activity where they live, learn and play. To get involved, visit www.voicesforhealthykids.org and follow us @Voices4HK.
ABOUT THE AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATIONThe American Heart Association is devoted to saving people from heart disease and stroke – the two leading causes of death in the world. We team with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies, and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat these diseases. The Dallas-based association is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. To learn more or to get involved, call 1-800-AHA-USA1, visit heart.org or call any of our offices around the country. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
ABOUT THE ROBERT WOOD JOHNSON FOUNDATIONFor more than 40 years the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has worked to improve health and health care. We are striving to build a national Culture of Health that will enable all to live longer, healthier lives now and for generations to come. For more information, visit www.rwjf.org. Follow the Foundation on Twitter at www.rwjf.org/twitter or on Facebook at www.rwjf.org/facebook.