Communities across the country have worked diligently with CDC to combat the two leading causes of premature death in the nation – tobacco use and obesity through Communities Putting Prevention to Work Initiatives (CPPW). CPPW has expanded the country’s capacities to build public health policies, strengthening community environments to support health, and establishing successful interventions that have long term sustainability. The Arkansas Department of Health has coordinated population-based approaches to Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity, through policy, systems and environmental change. These efforts are currently being achieved through two communities - the City of North Little Rock and Independence County. These communities were funded to develop, implement and promote evidence-based strategies and public health policies to combat obesity among their populations.
Arkansas Communities: Impact and Oureach
Community 1: City of North Little Rock, Arkansas - The City of North Little Rock received $1.5 million to support healthy eating and lifestyle behaviors in highly impoverished and low-income areas. The vision is to make the City of North Little Rock a Fit 2 Live community— committed to healthy eating and active living. The mission is to create an environment that empowers its community to recognize and adopt healthy life choices, collect evidence-based data, build partnerships to identify and share resources, develop and reinforce policy initiatives, promote and implement innovative programs and practices. The overall CPPW Goal for the City of North Little Rock is to change policies, systems and environments within the City and School District to increase access to nutritious food and opportunities for physical activity throughout North Little Rock’s neighborhoods. IMPACT 1) Fit 2 Live has engaged leaders, organizations and policy makers in the community to develop and implement evidence- and practice-based approaches in policy, systems and environmental change 2) The Mayor and City Council approved and signed a Resolution that addresses and supports 100% of the Community Action Plan Objectives. The resolution declares commitment of the City of North Little Rock to the “Fit2Live” Initiative for healthy eating and active living. It also reflects the support for work on the seven obesity prevention policy goals by September 2012 as detailed in the City of North Little Rock CPPW grant 3) As part of an effort to increase access to fresh fruits and vegetables, North Little Rock’s City Council has allocated funds to assist with building or improving community gardens. The City offers this financial assistance to local groups and expects the gardens to encourage self-reliance, provide education around food and decrease families’ food budgets 4) The ordinance that amended zoning to allow community gardens was approved and signed by the Mayor and City Council. The zoning provision allows sales of whole, fresh produce and honey directly from community gardens as long as products were produced on-site. It also allows 4 ft. fences around community gardens without a special permit 5) The City of North Little Rock formally adopted a Complete Streets Policy.
Community 2: Independence County, Arkansas - Independence County received $668,206 to implement to also support healthy eating and lifestyle behaviors in rural, low-income communities. The Independence County Hometown Health Wellness Coalition has support from community leaders, policy makers and key organizations to implement evidence-based strategies in policy, systems and environmental change. IMPACT 1) The Independence County Wellness Coalition represents eight small rural communities and is partnering with area schools to develop, implement and promote SPARK Physical Education and Wellness curricula comprised of evidence-based strategies to increase physical activity and improve nutrition among students as well as in homes and after school. 2) Joint Use Agreements have been established with 4 out of 4 school districts to provide physical activity opportunities such as Zumba, kick-boxing, line-dancing, Biggest Loser, Toning, Aerobics, Kid’s Running/Walking Club, and Pump Classes to community members who may not have access to these services. These courses are free. 3) School Wellness Policies within all four school districts are currently being revised to include physical activity and nutrition education; engage students, parents, teachers, food services professionals, health professionals and community members in developing, implementing, monitoring and reviewing district-wide nutrition and physical activity policies for adoption and implementation by the superintendents and School Board.