Advocacy Training Q&A

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In your community, which of the following recommended methods to increase children’s physical activity (PA) do you feel would have the greatest impact in schools: community campaigns, a Walking School Bus program, partnership with a group like your community Y, or work with the school board to increase PA in the curriculum?

Answer: Working with the school board to increase physical activity in the curriculum would be my recommendation. The first step is to develop a policy. Once this is accomplished, a training can be conducted to involve all the key stakeholders: teachers, principals, kids, parents, and the rest of the school staff.  The training could be surrounded by a local public relations (PR) campaign with ads in the newspaper, on local TV, letters home to the parents, and, of course, engagement of the kids. Involving the key players through the training and PR campaign will set the stage for successful policy implementation, which in turn leads to long-lasting sustainability. Since active kids are better learners, this type of policy work also ties into the school's mission to provide the best education for students. - Dr. Victoria Rogers, Director of the Kids CO-OP and Medical Director of Let's Go! at the Barbara Bush Children's Hospital at Maine Medical Center

I am interested in getting healthier foods in my son's school vending machines. Can you recommend how I might go about this?
Answer: A big challenge in changing school vending machine content is convincing schools that they can make just as much money filling machines with healthy foods. Many schools have begun to adopt this policy and have seen no loss in revenue. Kids are inclined it seems, to put their money into any machine regardless of what’s in it. In getting started, it’s crucial that you get involved and make connections with the PTA, school officials and vendors. Making it easy for schools to change by providing information and data is key.
We don't have a lot of money in my community and certainly can't afford to get sidewalks put in or public gyms open. What can we do in our community to make our children's lives healthier?

Answer: Money is always helpful. Part of organizing within a community is dedicating time to seeking out funds. Having said that, there are many things you can start in your community tomorrow with little to no money. If your community is rural and/or close to farms, convincing farmers to bring crops to farmers markets in vacant lots is a great way to get started. By catering the crops they bring to the desires of the community, healthy foods are purchased in areas where they may not ordinarily be available. Another great plan is to have a city or town-wide get healthy challenge.This would involve speaking with school or church officials to allow for the public high school gym or church recreation room to stay open for two hours in the early morning or evening for exercise. Jump ropes, homemade sand weights and basketballs are all things you can make or find in many houses and can bring to the gym.