In February 2009 War on Poverty-Florida launched a three-year project initiative aimed to reduce the prevalence of obesity and health related issues among youth in Northwest Jacksonville. The Build a Healthy Community – Childhood Obesity Prevention Project (BHC-COP), funded in part through The Blue Foundation for a Healthy Florida, Embrace a Healthy Florida initiative. The BHC-COP is an awareness campaign designed to promote active lifestyles and healthy eating habits for youth and their families.
War on Poverty Florida, in partnership with the Pearl Nutrition Services site of Duval County Health Department’s Community Nutrition Services Division, Healthy Kids Healthy Jacksonville Coalition, Commit2B Fit, University of Florida Nutrition Education Students, IFAS and Urban Agriculture Divisions, University of Florida Pediatric Education Division, Women of Color Cultural Foundation and the Student Conservation Association along with faith-based and community-based collaborative partners are working together create empowering nutrition education and gardening education, access to fresh fruit and vegetables, and :
- Increase nutrition & health education through targeted outreach strategy and education programs
- Increase community garden and urban agriculture programs to create alternative food source, and increase the capacity for community and
cohesive communal social networks, parental involvement and entrepreneurship to serve a health need.
- Provide healthy eating education classes that include food preparation and budget shopping activities with nutritionist, interns and/or community health educator, field trips to farmer’s markets and food preparation demonstrations, gardening and environmental educational and physical activity programs.
- Engage youth in service learning activities around nutrition education, physical activity, meal preparation, urban agriculture and community gardening.
- Introduce opportunities for youth and teens to become engaged in the awareness campaign through participating in the development of youth-led messages and activities, volunteerism, service learning, leadership and civic engagement, community health and environmental education.
- Provide residents and youth with garden programs to help learn new skills and build self esteem and self sustainability, leadership and financial management skills while planning and developing community gardens.
Based on the recent Healthy Kids, Healthy Jacksonville Call to Action by the Duval County Health Department, War on Poverty-Florida accepted the call to action in partnership with Healthy Kids, Healthy Jacksonville and other public/private partnerships to advance strategies that support the following:
- The Built Environment – to increase investment in neighborhood infrastructure with emphasis on divested neighborhoods, increase development of mixed-use land areas that provide affordable housing and commercial space options, incorporate “smart growth” strategies into revitalization efforts; increase investment in sidewalks, bicycle paths, street lights and urban agriculture.
- Engage Schools to advance and increase the implementation of comprehensive health education in grades PreK-12 to increase health literacy, encourage and provide opportunities for safe structured physical activity through school based gardens, and incorporating staff and student wellness initiatives; engage parents and caregivers in advocating for their health and wellness programs in schools.
- Engage Early Childhood advocates and providers to advance healthy eating and active living and to disseminate healthy eating and active living education and information through child care provider education and early childhood nutrition education activities.
- Engage Community, Faith and Youth organizations to identify peer educators and provide train-the-trainer program for healthy lifestyles and programming that reinforces the core message of prevention.
- Implement a partnership with a school to support healthy living and parental support efforts; create and implement youth-led peer involvement campaigns that address healthy eating and active living; encourage partnerships to support breastfeeding awareness, education and promotion; engage parents and caregivers in educational activities that teach how to advocate for their health.