Central Indiana has many wonderful qualities, but a year ago, our investment in the city's built environment was looking bleak. That has started changing, and Indianapolis has shared several bits of built environment good news recently. The term "built environment" refers to the built structures in communities and includes everything from sidewalks to trails to public transportation. The quality of a community's built environment can severely impact public health.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), "The built environment influences a person’s level of physical activity. For example, inaccessible or nonexistent sidewalks and bicycle or walking paths contribute to sedentary habits. These habits lead to poor health outcomes such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and some types of cancer."
A couple of Fridays ago, roughly 80 volunteers descended on an eight-acre patch of land on the southeast side of Lawrence. The land is owned by Monarch Beverage, which already has an impressive campus just to the north. These eight acres Monarch has pledged not to develop; they are the grounds of the Lawrence Community Gardens, founded and led by Sharonna Moore.
Jump IN for Healthy Kids has a close partner in Early Learning Indiana, helping our work to reduce overweight and obesity prevalence in children. Research tells us that children establish their habits around nutrition and physical activity by age five, so ensuring they learn healthy behaviors early on is critical. We reach these young children through the Taking Steps to Healthy Success (TSHS) program, a best practices approach to nutrition and physical activity for children ages zero to five that covers the topics of nutrition, healthy beverages, physical activity, screen time, breast feeding, family engagement and staff wellness. Jump IN and Early Learning Indiana offer TSHS free to child care providers and all participating programs will receive a cash incentive upon completing the requirements. Thanks to Anthem, Jump IN and Early Learning Indiana are now enrolling 25 new child care providers to begin the full session and 25 providers who've already had the training for ongoing technical assistance to ensure that the best practices are being thoroughly followed and are embedded into the policies and day-to-day of the centers. More than 170 child care providers in central Indiana have already participated in the program, impacting more than 10,000 children.
It's spring, and the school year is coming to an end. The good weather and longer daylight hours mean more opportunities for outdoor play and physical activity. Make a commitment today to keep those activities going all summer long - blending family fun time with physical activity is a winning combination!
This is the last blog post of a three-part series to tell you about a unique elementary school, nestled in Lawrence: Harrison Hill School. That part of Lawrence is economically depressed, and its residents frequently struggle with poverty and the challenges that go with it. But Harrison Hill is unusual as a community school: services that families need are accessible at the school (part 1), and School Community Liaison Neal Gore has developed an exceptionally robust family engagement program (part 2). The third piece of this work is improving kids' health by creating a healthy environment where making good nutrition and physical activity choices are part of daily life.
This is part two of a three-part series to tell you about a unique elementary school, nestled in Lawrence: Harrison Hill School. That part of Lawrence is economically depressed, and its residents frequently struggle with poverty and the challenges that go with it. Thanks to Community Liaison Neal Gore, family engagement is front and center at Harrison Hill, and that engagement has enabled the school to teach families healthy habits regarding nutrition and physical activity on a collaborative scale that we at Jump IN haven’t seen at any other schools. Neal is interested in not only creating a healthy school, he’s also trying to create a healthier neighborhood.
He’s doing it by opening up the school outside of school hours and invited families to participate in dozens of different activities for Family Engagement Nights. He calls this part of his job, “my most fun thing!” Family Engagement nights are six-week-long sessions that happen four times a year. The school is in its fourth year of offering them and on any given Family Engagement night as many as a hundred people might be participating. These are free, and they include a sit-down dinner with the other families, sponsored by Chef Suzanne (Neal has calculated that she has donated more than 10,000 meals over the last four years – wow!).
This is part one of a three-part series to tell you about a unique elementary school, nestled in Lawrence: Harrison Hill School. That part of Lawrence is economically depressed, and its residents frequently struggle with poverty and the challenges that go with it. Family engagement is front and center at Harrison Hill, and that engagement has enabled the school to teach families healthy habits regarding nutrition and physical activity on a collaborative scale that we at Jump IN haven’t seen at any other schools. The driver of this engagement is Neal Gore, the school’s Community Liaison. Neal’s wife has been a teacher at the school for a long time, and their family has a strong belief in “being present,” meaning that they live in the neighborhood where the school is, send their kids to the school, and are committed to engaging as community members - as Neal puts it, “living where you’re making a difference, not outside of it.” Neal joined Harrison Hill four years ago, when the school was applying to the United Way of Central Indiana for a Student Success grant to model the school as a “community school.” Neal was part of the group working on the grant, and when the school got the grant, Neal joined the staff to implement it. It was a sizable grant, over $400,000 over three years. It’s now one year past the end of the grant, and Neal has worked hard to make the concept self-sustaining.
Did you know? Jump IN for Healthy Kids is fortunate and honored to be one of the 50 organizations competing for the $250,000 Healthiest Cities and Counties Challenge. The Challenge is a partnership between the Aetna Foundation, the American Public Health Association and the National Association of Counties. The partnership empowers small to mid-size U.S. cities and counties to create a positive health impact. 50 communities were selected by competitive process to be part of the Challenge, and Jump IN's community demonstration project in Greater Lawrence and the Far Eastside (GLFE) was selected as one of the 50. Jump IN's work and the work of our partners is broad and deep, and we've listed nearly everything below that we're up to in GLFE, so it's a bit of a long read, but we really wanted to tell you about our work. It's a lot, and there are wonderful partners and grassroots efforts that are helping improve the health of residents every day. If we are fortunate enough to win the Challenge, the prize money will go directly into the GLFE community to continue and expand our work.
When Vida Benjamin came to Promiseland Child Care center on the far eastside of Indianapolis, she’d been recently laid off and was interested in volunteering and being with the children, never expecting she’d stumble on a new passion. Clearly gifted with the children, one day she was asked if she might be interested in joining Promiseland on staff, and today she’s been its director for over four years. Promiseland is a Paths to QUALITY level 3 licensed, registered, child care ministry, housed in Calvary Temple "The Caring Place” church. Promiseland serves 65 children, ages 6 weeks through 5 years, and has a special program for older children during school breaks.