Hialeah Healthy Families
Origins of Hialeah Healthy Families
The City of Hialeah is a full-service city serving over 240,000 residents making it the fifth largest city in the State of Florida. Over 95% of the City’s residents are Hispanic making Hialeah a diverse yet unified place to live. The City has many assets including over 15 community parks with recreation facilities and 7 pools. Similar to most communities around the country, the rates of obesity in Hialeah have risen, with recent statistics showing 46% of school-age children in Hialeah are overweight, and 27% of those are obese. High rates of excessive weight have also been documented among 2-to-5-year-old children enrolled in the WIC program within Hialeah, with 36% being overweight, including 20% in the obese category. With support of the City Mayor, community stakeholders have determined that these rates are unacceptable and have pledged to take action against childhood obesity in the City of Hialeah.
For more information on Hialeah Healthy Families or on how to get involved, please contact us at 305-818-9143.
In 2010, the City of Hialeah pledged to build upon a coalition of community partners to change organizational practices, mobilize neighborhoods and communities, and influence policy to address the causes of childhood obesity in seven areas:
- Community Planning
- Early Care and Education
- Medical Community
- Parks and Recreation
- Public Health
- Public Safety
This effort resulted in coordination among public, corporate, and media partners in Hialeah working together in developing a comprehensive strategy to combat childhood obesity by raising awareness of programs that support a healthy lifestyle and increasing access to healthy food and physical activity.
Advisory Board & Working Groups
The Hialeah Healthy Families initiative, supported by the Florida Blue Foundation as a part of the Embrace a Healthy Florida initiative, began with the formation of an advisory board and four working groups in January 2011, with meetings of these groups beginning in March 2011. The four groups are:
- Early Childhood and Education
- Health, Nutrition, and Fitness
- Marketing and Community Outreach
The advisory board led and oversaw the identification of current programming aimed at children’s health promotion and identified areas of continued need in the community. Members of the working groups examined strategies to foster lifestyle changes with proper nutrition and fitness, nutrition education and fitness programming for parents and children, opportunities for increasing awareness of healthy food and exercise options, and data and evaluation tools. Since then, community surveys and focus groups have been conducted, as well as meetings of key stakeholders and community agencies to inform the development of a comprehensive plan to prevent childhood obesity and encourage a healthy lifestyle among the Hialeah community.
In order to improve the health of all children in the City of Hialeah, the following target areas were identified as priorities for intervention:
- Family Engagement
- School Involvement
- Social Marketing and Community Outreach
Through information gathered by an enthusiastic and dedicated team of professionals we have focused on four specific target areas to guide our efforts to initiate change in the City of Hialeah. These targets were chosen based on data collected regarding ongoing efforts to prevent and treat obesity in our community.
- Enhance current programming offered throughout the Parks and Recreation Department of the City by incorporating health fairs, healthy lifestyle groups for families, and individualized sports and fun fitness activities for children
- Explore the potential for an active farmers market in the city
- Increase access to healthy foods in vending machines and concessions through the parks
- Increase healthy lifestyle messaging through visual displays (posters and billboards) and through the media in various venues (parks, schools, food stores, medical offices)
- Provide public transportation to the Opa Locka-Hialeah flea market fresh produce market
- Child care center programs for parents to employ health promotion policies at home to prevent obesity
- Enhance body mass index (BMI) screening at schools
- Expand walking school buses and organized biking to and from school
- In-school Public Service Announcements (PSAs) for healthy lifestyles
- Increase opportunities for physical activity during the school day
- Nutrition education integrated with academic curriculum
Social Marketing & Community Outreach
- Conduct PSAs promoting health education and local programming
- Develop a common message to be delivered to children, parents, teachers, and grandparents, and utilize sport and music celebrities to deliver the message
- Distribute flyers educating children and families about childhood obesity, the health consequences, and the importance of prevention and treatment; community efforts to combat childhood obesity; and how to cook healthy
- Hispanic meals
- Partner with local dance and martial arts studios for increasing children’s physical activity
- Partner with local vendors (supermarkets, vianderos, flea market) to increase access to healthy foods and food preparations, and with celebrity chefs to promote healthy cooking through demonstrations