PreventObesity.net Leader Shawna Kelsch
understands that it can be tough for parents to provide their children with a healthy lifestyle.
There are many reasons this is true, of course. Not every community has access to fresh and healthy food or places to exercise. Some parents are short on both cash and time, so grabbing fast food is often the cheapest and easiest way to feed their kids. Then there are neighborhoods that lack safe places for kids to play outside, so it’s hard for them to be active.
But Kelsch also knows that most parents try to do the right thing by their kids — sometimes, the messaging about how to do that gets a little murky.
Providing a clear, accessible directive to parents — and the resources to help them — is the mission of Reduce Obesity in Central Florida Kids (ROCK)
, a consortium of four Sunshine State counties that works to educate children, parents, teachers, daycare providers and even healthcare workers about healthy childhood living.
“We’re trying to look at all of those different things in the four counties, and basically provide a single source of messaging about how simple it can be to make your life healthier,” says Kelsch, who serves as ROCK’s executive director.
ROCK promotes the “5-2-1-Almost None” message, which urges children to eat five servings of produce a day; have two hours or less of screen time; take part in one hour or more physical activity each day; and consume almost no sugary drinks.
This year, ROCK launched its website, www.ROCKFL.org
, which consolidates all resources across the four Florida counties in one place, including links to various organizations and maps of public parks and recreation spaces. ROCK also reaches its members and partners though a listserv, which spreads the word about new initiatives, research, grants and programs.
The consortium is unique among other childhood obesity groups, Kelsch says, because it brings regional healthcare, government, private and public stakeholders together to address childhood obesity in central Florida, where one in three children is overweight or obese. Its mission is to connect families with the organizations that can help them lead an active lifestyle, all while promoting the 5-2-1-Almost None message.
In upcoming months, Kelsch is looking to work with businesses and corporate partners to better unite the public and private sectors, she says. Kelsch also is working to develop ROCK into a 501(c)(3) organization.
Kelsch believes ROCK’s regional model can be replicated in other parts of the country, she says. “We have in a very short period of time become the go-to source,” Kelsch says.