May 14, 2010

Working toward a healthier tomorrow

Please welcome our guest blogger todaySandra Henriquez, Assistant Secretary for the Office of Public and Indian Housing:

Just this Tuesday, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan stood with the First Lady and Domestic Policy Council Director Melody Barnes to show our agency’s commitment to the Let’s Move campaign to end childhood obesity and to the strategies outlined in the Childhood Obesity Task Force action plan.

Yesterday, I had the honor of echoing that message with my visit to a KaBOOM! playground at the Westville Manor Housing Development in New Haven, Conn. Nonprofit and for-profit organizations and government agencies on all levels came together to lend a hand to the children and parents of Westville Manor to design a dream playground for their community.

Sandra HenriquezSandra Henriquez addresses the crowd at the Westville Manor Housing Development in New Haven.

It was exciting to sit with those families and listen to their ideas for a playground that is safe and well-equipped so that kids have plenty of ways to get active—and for their parents to join in the fun.

We know that how communities are designed and function can promote or inhibit physical activity for both kids and adults. Children and youth living in unsafe neighborhoods or those overwhelmed by poorly-maintained housing, litter and blight have between a 30 to 60 percent higher chance of being obese or overweight than children living in better conditions.

Kids living in neighborhoods with few amenities—without access to sidewalks or walking paths, parks or playgrounds, or recreation or community centers—have 20 to 45 percent higher odds of becoming obese or overweight compared to children who live in better-designed communities.

Kids at Westville Manor in New Haven, ConnChildren at Westville Manor Housing Development in New Haven, Conn. will soon have a new playground, which will decrease their risk of becoming overweight or obese.

We all have to do our part to encourage kids to grow and remain active in the years to come. With true community partnerships such as those I saw in New Haven, I am confident that we can solve childhood obesity in our generation.

See how play figures into the White House Task Force's action plan to solve childhood obesity.

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