Archive for the ‘Healthy Neighborhood’ Category

The Best New Year’s Resolutions for Healthy Families

Tuesday, January 19th, 2016

Year after year, we reflect on our accomplishments and set goals for the New Year to come. Shedding a few pounds, exercising more, indulging in less sugar, and saving money are typical New Year’s resolutions people make. By participating in New Year’s resolutions with your friends or family, you can stay accountable and actually see the resolutions come to fruition.

Another benefit to including your whole family in on making New Year’s resolutions is that you can teach your children a valuable lesson about self-discipline and goal setting.  Here are some ways you and family can participate in making (and keeping) New Year’s resolutions that promote a healthy lifestyle.

healthy families

Plant a Garden Together

Placing an emphasis on healthy eating and engaging in an active lifestyle is necessary to achieve optimal health. This New Year, take your nutritional goals a step further and plant a garden together. This activity can involve the whole family and can be customized to fit your homes. Whether you have a large backyard for raised beds or a patio for planters, together you and your family can focus on your health by learning about seasonal fruits, vegetables and herbs.

Not only are you teaching your children about sustainability and an educating them about agriculture, but also as you are able to watch your garden grow and produce. You can then use those ingredients and cook together. There is no better way to stay fit and healthy than growing and consuming your own produce throughout the year.

Embrace Independence

As parents it is instinct to fight the battles for our children. We want nothing else but to protect them from all evil. This year, unless it is a dangerous situation, try to step back and allow your children to fend for themselves.

Fostering independence boosts self-esteem and builds confidence. Even though you may have your own way of doing something, allow your children to do it their way and recognize their accomplishments. This will benefit the family in two ways: it will free up some of the stress and pressure placed on the parents and it will teach your children how to be self-sufficient.

Plan a Family Night

Once a week — and it doesn’t have to be on the same day each week — designate a time when the whole family gets together for “family time”. This could be a dinner at home all sitting around the dinner table (with devices turned off), a quick getaway to for a hike, a movie marathon of all your childhood favorites, or board-game night. With busy schedules, a small tradition such as this will bring your family together to spend quality time digressing, sharing and making memories.

Learn a New Hobby or Sport

Staying active is one important element to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. One way to keep your family physically healthy is to participate in a group activity. By learning a new hobby or partaking in a group sport, you will teach your children the importance of fitness, and in the process you can keep each other accountable. There are so many great lessons to be learned from participating in sporting activities such as sportsmanship, team building, and boosting confidence, self-esteem and determination.

One great idea is to form a family softball team. You can make this activity extra fun by creating a quirky team name, designing personalized team shirts and participating in some good old competitive fun. Better yet, get your family friends involved, that way you can play against each other.

Create “Me Time”

For every individual in your family it is important to set aside some time each day that is uninterrupted and designated for that individual. This should be time not necessarily spent together, but time for every member of your family to focus on themselves. Whether they partake in journaling or listening to their favorite music without any disruptions, other members of the family should respect their space and leave the individual alone to take care of his or her needs.

This concept is not only important for the parents, who are constantly focused on their children’s needs, but this is also a great opportunity for the children to become comfortable in their own skin. By exploring new hobbies, reflecting on their accomplishments, or simply engaging in fun or creative activities, by setting aside some personal time each week your children will learn the importance in taking care of themselves.

CDC’s Community Transformation Grants (CTGs)

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

Created by the Affordable Care Act, Community Transformation Grants (CTGs) are aimed at helping communities implement projects proven to reduce chronic diseases – such as diabetes and heart disease. Over $100M is available for the current year, and local/state health departments are a perfect fit for this opportunity!


Letter of Intent: June 6, 2011

Application: July 15, 2011


  • Support evidence and practice-based community and clinical prevention and wellness strategies that will lead to specific, measurable health outcomes to reduce chronic disease rates.
  • To create healthier communities by
  1. Building capacity to implement broad evidence and practice-based policy, environmental, programmatic and infrastructure changes in large counties, and in states, tribes and territories, including in rural and frontier areas
  2. Supporting implementation of such interventions in five strategic areas (“Strategic Directions”) aligning with “Healthy People 2020” focus areas and achieving demonstrated progress in the following five performance measures outlined in the Affordable Care Act: 1) changes in weight 2) changes in proper nutrition 3) changes in physical activity 4) changes in tobacco use prevalence 5) changes in emotional well being and overall mental health


  • Local governmental agencies, state governmental agencies, Health Departments, ministries of health, and other governmental agencies
  • Federally recognized American Indian Tribes and Alaska Native Villages; Tribal organizations; Urban Indian Health Programs; Tribal and intertribal consortia
  • State nonprofit organizations
  • Local nonprofit organizations


CDC Community Transformation Grants Homepage Notice and Application

Before You Apply:

SPARK can help you meet the requirements outlined in the CTGs application!

SPARK offers evidence-based Physical Education, Physical Activity and Coordinated School Health programs targeting pre-K through 12th grade students in and out of school, and our programs have been proven to WORK and LAST.

Click Here to download a detailed document that will explain how you can use SPARK to align with the goals of the CTG. This document includes information that shows:

  1. Alignment to the Strategic Directions and Strategies within the CTGs application
  2. Alignment to CDC’s long-term measures for addressing physical activity and nutrition
  3. Why you should partner with SPARK for your CTGS submission
  4. How SPARK deliverables align with CDC prevention outcomes
  5. Which SPARK Evaluation & Assessment options might be used to support your submission

Next Steps:

Contact Kymm Ballard, Ed.D at SPARK. She’ll ask you a few questions, learn about your current programs, and listen to your vision for creating a healthier community. Together, we’ll create a program that will WORK and LAST.

Kymm Ballard, Ed.D

Partnership Development Specialist

Physical Education and Parent Involvement

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

Parents play a vital role in the health of their children and can strongly influence the choices they make at school. Making good choices regarding physical activity and nutritious food leads to improved student health — and healthier students are better learners. So encourage the parents of your students to play an active role in supporting a healthy school environment.

What can parents and families do? Here are a few ideas:

Provide Opportunities for Activity
  • Enroll their children in after school sports, classes or recreational activities
  • Expose them to a variety of physical activities
  • Identify ways to be active around your home or neighborhood
Encourage Healthy Eating Habits
  • Provide healthy snacks
  • Prepare meals with food from all of the food groups
  • Cook with your children
Be a Role Model
  • Be active regularly — and invite your child to join you
  • Reduce your own television and computer time
  • Cook more and eat out less
Monitor Screen Time
  • Limit the time spent each day using computers, video games and television
  • Avoid eating in front of the television
  • Provide alternate activities for children to enjoy
Advocate for a Healthier School
  • Daily physical education taught by qualified, credentialed physical educators — hopefully SPARK trained!
  • Healthier school lunches in all school environments (cafeteria, a la carte line, student body sales, etc.)
  • Using non-food related items for fundraisers and rewards

Do You Live in a Healthy Neighborhood?

Thursday, June 18th, 2009

I was recently asked to propose a short list of indicators of a “healthy neighborhood.” The list was to be considered by the San Diego Childhood Obesity Initiative, which is a wonderful coalition working hard to improve environments and policies to support children’s health. I thought others might be interested in the list, so I am sharing it here.

The items represent my understanding of likely physical or built environmental influences on diet, physical activity, and sedentary behaviors. Many of the items are consistent with evidence. I believe the general concepts are sound, but the specific numbers and distances are best guesses. For present purposes I added a few priority indicators for healthy schools and homes.

Healthy food access

  • Supermarket or other source of affordable fresh fruits and vegetables within ½ mile of homes
  • No more than 2 convenience or liquor stores within ½ mile of homes
  • No more fast food than sit-down restaurants within ½ mile of homes
  • Community garden within 1 mile of homes
  • Weekly farmer’s market within 1 mile of homes

Facilities for active recreation

  • Park with play equipment in good working order within ½ mile of homes
  • Parks have walking paths
  • Daily youth activity programs for free or sliding scale fees in all parks
  • Private recreation facility with sliding scale fees within ½ mile of homes
  • Nearest school activity facilities is open for public use

Designing for active transport

  • Sidewalks on every street in neighborhood
  • Pedestrian aids (crosswalks, signal) at intersection with nearest busy street
  • Street pattern creates direct routes from homes to nearby destinations
  • Nearest shopping area has sidewalks and safe pedestrian crossings
  • Public transit stop within ½ mile of homes

Healthy school environments

  • Evidence-based physical education offered daily
  • Markings on preschool and elementary playgrounds to stimulate active play
  • Sidewalks, marked crosswalks, and traffic calming within ¼ mile of each school to facilitate safe walking and biking
  • Salad bars with multiple raw food choices daily in every cafeteria
  • Only healthy foods provided at school
  • Convenience stores and fast food restaurants are not within ¼ mile of schools
  • No food advertising in schools

Healthy home environments

  • No televisions in children’s bedrooms
  • Only healthy foods out on the counter for snacking
  • Sports and activity supplies available for both indoor and outdoor play
  • A bicycle or skateboard for every child

James Sallis