In my practicum class today, we had a guest. Her name is Risa Wilkerson and she is part of the Healthy Kids Healthy Communities program from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. RWJF has a childhood obesity prevention portfolio which includes about 17 programs across three spectrum. They are action, advocacy and evidence.
The HKHC program falls under the Action column and specifically targets children "between the bells" . That would be the school bells - so no, she didn't have information for me on the Go Slow Whoa lunchrooms, but she said a couple of things that I did want to share.
First let me say that HKHC and most of what RWJ funds is connected to Active Living by Design (which includes healthy eating). Recently, the RWJF funded about 50 different programs/agencies/partnerships across the country in four year obesity prevention grants ( near 400,000 dollars each).
Most of the programs are in the southeastern USA - I believe that one of the conditions was that 40 of the 50 grantees be in the highest obesity, disparity and poverty areas.
People have done some really awesome things with these funds. You can learn more at the HKHC website.
Here however are the two or three arbitrary points:
1) complete streets - this means a street that meets the needs of the pedestrian, the bicyclist and the motorist. So driving lanes, cycling lanes and sidewalks.
2) 8 to 80 - when designing a walkable community, one should approach it in a way that an eight year old and an eighty year old could have all their needs met (safe travel) - and everyone in between will be covered.
3) triple bottom line - a new concept for business that we all could adopt -"how does what we are doing affect profit, people and planet."
4) eyes on the street-think again of active design - designing our cities or business districts to be walkable. One thing that works against walking is the threat of crime/violence. Make the buildings have doors (entrances) and windows right on the streets. It keeps eyes on the street. Having side walks and traffic calming encourages people to be out there. All those eyes on the street are a turn off for the creeps and criminals.