By Michaela Gibson Morris/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – A coalition of Tupelo children’s health advocates is teaming up for a national childhood obesity initiative.
A partnership spearheaded by the Healthy Tupelo Task Force was one of 40 community teams from around the country selected to participate in the second phase of the “Collaborate for Healthy Weight” organized through the National Initiative for Children’s Health Care Quality.
“We are delighted that NICHQ has selected our team from Tupelo to participate in this initiative based on our solid commitment to achieving healthy weight and health equity in our community,” said team leader Hank Boerner, director of North Mississippi Medical Center’s Wellness Center and co-chairman of Healthy Tupelo Task Force.
The team brings together public and private resources and includes North Mississippi Medical Center, HealthWorks!, the Mississippi State Department of Health and CATCH Kids, which provides free medical care for children in community and school-based clinics. The vision is to bring partners together from across a community to develop quality, sustainable programs to help children and families achieve healthy weight. The Northwest Mississippi team, led by the Delta Health Alliance, is the only other team in Mississippi.
“It’s a rare and wonderful opportunity to access the best minds out there,” said Donna Loden, programming director of HealthWorks! Children’s Health Education Center in Tupelo, who serves on the Healthy Tupelo Task Force.
The Tupelo team will focus its efforts on Haven Acres and Northside Boys and Girls Club, gathering health and fitness data, measuring physical activity and pumping up health and nutrition education for the kids and their families.
Health and fitness are core areas for the Boys amp& Girls Club, said Zell Long, chief professional officer for the Boys amp& Girls Clubs of North Mississippi.
“This just ties in with that,” Long said.
The team will begin gathering data over the next two weeks and then start formulating more specific plans. Some of the ideas on the table include cooking demonstrations, taste testing of healthy foods and education sessions with registered dietitians, Boerner said.
The group hopes to roll out successful programs more broadly through the community, as well as share them with the other teams.
The national project is supported through the Prevention and Public Health Fund under the Affordable Care Act and a partnership with the Health Resources and Services Administration.