The Norwalk Health Department and the Norwalk Childhood Obesity Prevention Committee have been selected by the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors (NACDD) to join the Action Communities for Health, Innovation, and EnVironmental changE (ACHIEVE) initiative. The Childhood Obesity Prevention Committee includes organizations in education, government, medicine, social services, community, and private business. Led by the Health Department, the Committee and its members work to promote healthy policies and environments and to empower Norwalk kids and their families to make healthy choices.
ACHIEVE is an initiative from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that brings local communities and national organizations together in a movement to create healthier places to live, learn, work, and play. ACHIEVE communities nationwide conduct activities to reduce tobacco consumption and exposure, promote physical activity and healthy eating, improve access to quality preventive healthcare services, and eliminate health disparities. Norwalk is one of 15 newly selected communities in 17 states, and its ACHIEVE work will focus on preventing childhood obesity.
“Childhood obesity is a serious problem in Norwalk and nationwide,” said Tim Callahan, Director of Health. “This support from the CDC and NACDD enhances the Health Department’s collaboration with other organizations doing great work to address this problem.”
For example, member organization Norwalk Grows has installed 11 organic school gardens at Norwalk public schools and works to encourage healthy lifestyles and provide students with an integrated garden-based education across core curriculum and a unique sense of community. Anthony Allison, Norwalk Children’s Foundation Program Officer, understands the importance of joining forces with other groups to create a healthy community.
“Norwalk Children’s Foundation and its program Norwalk Grows are very happy to be part of this Committee and the ACHIEVE initiative. We’re proud of our work in school gardens, but so many factors and settings contribute to kids’ health and wellness,” said Allison. “By working collectively, we can have a much greater impact on the overall health and wellness of all the children in Norwalk.”
In addition to the Health Department and Norwalk Grows, Committee members currently include representatives from Norwalk Public Schools, the Human Services Council/Dr. Robert E. Appleby School-Based Health Centers, Norwalk Community College Child Development Lab, United Way of Coastal Fairfield County, Norwalk Community Health Center, Norwalk Healthy Families Collaborative, and Pepperidge Farm Inc. This new support from the CDC and NACDD ($88,000 over 2 years) will enable the Health Department and its partners to expand and enhance the Committee and its activities. Funding will be used to develop and implement campaigns to engage Norwalk community members (particularly children and teens), as well as support staff and training expenses.
As part of the ACHIEVE initiative, Norwalk has been paired with a mentor community, Northeast District Department of Health (Brooklyn, CT), which joined ACHIEVE in 2009 and is currently helping schools, businesses, and communities to adopt and implement effective policy changes that will lead to healthier students, employees and residents.
“Our ACHIEVE Initiative is an exciting and challenging opportunity,” said Theresa Argondezzi, Health Educator at the Health Department. “The Childhood Obesity Prevention Committee is fortunate to have our friends at the Northeast District Department of Health and their partners as mentors. We are excited to work with them and with our national partners at the NACDD. We have no doubt that their insight and expertise will help this initiative succeed.”
About ACHIEVE: Since 2008, NACDD along with other national partners, have collaborated to provide training, technical assistance, and support to the now 149 ACHIEVE communities across the nation. For a complete listing of all funded communities, please visit the ACHIEVE website at www.achievecommunities.org and CDC’s Healthy Communities Program’s website at www.cdc.gov/healthycommunitiesprogram.