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Voices for Healthy Kids has taken a further step in their journey to see all kids grow up in a healthy environment in their rebrand—learn more here in a letter from the Executive Director of Voices for Healthy Kids.
The ways advocates work to improve the health of communities - particularly those efforts at the local and state levels - are always changing. As we learn more, the way we talk about those efforts change as well. Influenced by an ever-evolving body of research, science, and campaign successes, the changes reflect the best practices to positively impact health for the long term.
At Voices for Healthy Kids, we constantly monitor these changes and adjust our approaches accordingly. As our name notes, we began our work with a focus on helping improve the health of all children by increasing access to healthy foods and beverages, eliminating unhealthy food marketing, and increasing safe spaces for physical activity. Working at the state and local levels, the ultimate goal of that effort was to reduce childhood obesity and the threat it poses to not only to the health of children, but the future of the nation itself.
Since our launch in 2012, our work has evolved and grown to include more than just preventing childhood obesity. Consider our work to positively impact those living in regions where residents have limited access to healthy and affordable foods due to distance and income barriers. As our work has progressed, we've recognized that increasing access to healthy and affordable foods in urban and rural regions throughout the nation has much broader health and social impacts than just childhood obesity prevention. It affects the entire community, from sunrise to sundown.
Through Voices for Healthy Kids, we have also conducted extensive research into compelling and effective messaging, because the messaging around our policies is what the public and policymakers hear when it comes to our work. Our research, and the research of others, shows that "childhood obesity" is not the most effective phrase for creating long-lasting change. While obesity is a chronic disease, many still think of it as a personal problem with a personal solution. They believe if someone is obese or overweight, that person just needs to eat less and be more physically active. There isn't an immediate connection to or understanding of the impact outside factors have on personal health, or the need for policies and place-based solutions to help make it easier for people to be physically active or access healthier foods.
Voices for Healthy Kids is working with an increasingly diverse array of allies to improve the health of all families that goes beyond childhood obesity. For example, we work with the nation's Native American tribes in Minnesota, New Mexico, and elsewhere to improve health by increasing access to traditional and healthier foods. Our role has been to provide funding and facilitation, while our tribal partners are doing amazing work on the ground and in their communities. Additionally, the work being done daily in collaborations such as these, positively impacts the health of children through their communities and families - and that needs to be referenced more clearly in our mission. As children go through their day - from their neighborhood to school or early childcare to out-of-school time and beyond - we want to make sure health surrounds every moment.
For these reasons and more, the tagline we have used since our inception - "taking action to prevent obesity" - will change to "making each day healthier for all children." The change reflects the progress of our initiative and our evolving mission as it relates to health. It also aligns with our research that shows that messaging focused on positive outcomes has the greatest impact. This tagline was inspired and created in conjunction with our funder, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
While our tagline is changing, one thing will never change: Our commitment to improve the health of the nation's children and families by ensuring that the places where they live, learn, and play make the healthy choice the easy choice. We will also continue to use the best science available, and will focus our efforts in the states and communities hardest hit by this public health crisis.
Our tagline is new, but our commitment is the same: improve the health of the nation by making each day healthier for all children.
Executive Director, Voices for Healthy Kids
Vice President, Global Advocacy & Strategic Opportunities,
American Heart Association