Building Healthy Communities for Our Kids-MainPhoto

Building Healthy Communities for Our Kids-MainPhoto

As mamis, we love our kids and we want the best for them. Sometimes this means figuring out what vegetables they will eat and sometimes it’s just finding any good vegetables we can afford at a store nearby. The same can be said for getting our kids active. We love to take our kids to a nearby playground…if there is one. So, what do we do when healthy foods and safe places to play aren’t right around the corner? As mothers, we do everything we can para nuestros hijos. But as communities, we can do even more for all our children.

Read Related: USDA: Healthy Foods Not As Costly As Once Believes

Our children are at risk of diabetes and heart disease—about 15 percent of Hispanic teens are obese—and there’s something we can all do about it. To improve the health of children and communities, the American Heart Association and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation have launched Voices for Healthy Kids. With support, communities can advocate for local, state, and federal policies that make it easier to provide healthier foods for our kids and keep them more active.

You can also be an advocate to help young people live a healthier life! In fact, there are six things you should do to help your kids and all the kids in your community live healthy:

Sip smarter: Did you know that one can of soda or other sugary drink a day can add up to 10 pounds a year? Kids are drinking almost one-third of their calories from sports drinks to sodas to juice boxes, and these drinks don’t have the nutrients kids need to be healthy. At birthday parties and other events, tell your friends and family you want water and low-calorie drinks available.

Snacks in schools: Kids are offered a lot healthier meals in schools this year because of new federal requirements. Yet there are still items available for sale both inside and outside the cafeteria. Encourage your own kids to try the healthiest options on the menu. Let your school know you want healthier foods offered a la carte in addition to what is served as part of the school lunch.

Out of school, into health: Do your children attend an after school program? If so, ask the staff about their after school curriculum. All after school programs should have schedules and plans to keep your kids moving. It helps for kids to play and be active both before and after school to stay healthy. At home, you can do yourselves a favor too by going on walks or playing active games as a family.

Share, play and go: Every neighborhood is different. Some have sidewalks and street lights, some have schools nearby and others are far away. How your community is built can actually encourage you to get active. If your school doesn’t already open its playground or gym to the community after hours, see if it’s possible. Let others know you want a safe community that is built to help people get active.

Lobby for better choices: I don’t like to fight with my kids about junk foods at the grocery store, do you? Sometimes I give in, but it doesn’t seem fair that while I teach my kids how to eat healthy, they see ads on TV, billboards—even ads at school—that tell them junk foods are delicious. First Lady Michelle Obama recently spoke with the major food companies and asked them to “step up” and market healthy foods. She called on us, as parents, to speak out and let these companies know we want to see more popular characters used for healthy foods. We need to show companies that when they offer healthy foods, we choose them.

Veggies for sale—Speaking of shopping for healthy food, it can be really frustrating when you want to buy healthier foods and your local corner market doesn’t stock produce or the closest grocery store is so far away it’s hard to get to very often. You might be surprised that the owner of your corner store is willing to try a few new items and see how well they sell, so just ask!

If each of us makes a few changes in our own homes and asks a few people for support to make a few changes in each of our communities, we will all be part of creating healthier communities. Learn more about how you can help your community be healthy by joining the Voices for Healthy Kids community online today.

¡Sus comunidades si pueden mejorar!