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“Transforming Communities” Reports on Progress in Policy Change for Health


Over the last two years, Voices for Healthy Kids, a joint initiative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the American Heart Association, has directly supported more than 50 coalitions, in 20 cities and states, working to help all young people grow up at a healthy weight.

Since its launch in 2013, Voices for Healthy Kids has funded efforts to: open more grocery stores in low-income communities, unlock schoolyard gates so families could have a safe place to play, ensure sugary drinks were no longer served in childcare centers, and secure funding for sidewalks and bike paths in communities that needed them.

“Voices for Healthy Kids is truly a driving force of the national movement for healthier communities. We focus on communities striving for healthy kids,” says Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association.  “Many have been working to help all kids grow up at a healthy weight for more than a decade, but they needed more support to reach the tipping point. We are here to provide communities that support.” 

The achievements of this past year of Voices for Healthy Kids are highlighted in 2015 Voices for Healthy Kids Progress Report: Transforming Communities, Changing Lives released today as the program launches its third year of movement-building work. Key highlights in the progress report include:

  • Increasing access to safe places to be active for more than 29 million people in Arizona, Ohio, Iowa, Minnesota, Washington, and West Virginia
  • Providing healthier school snacks for more than 4.5 million students in Florida, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, and Utah, including 2.5 million low-income children.
  • Increasing access to affordable healthy foods in Alabama, Louisiana, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma and Texas.
  • Serving healthier drinks to young children and helping all families rethink their drinks in Illinois, Maryland and California.

“Each and every one of these efforts has played an important role in our progress so far, and gives us powerful momentum as we continue our work in the future,” emphasizes Brown as she reflects on the progress made during the second year of the initiative.

The coalitions supported by Voices for Healthy Kids have made a significant step toward helping all children grow up at a healthy weight. The policy changes they helped create have a potentially wide-reaching impact: the cities and states where they happened are home to 36 million people, more than 10 million of whom live in low-income communities or communities of color. But all involved know that the work is far from done.

As the third year of Voices for Healthy Kids gets underway, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has provided $16 million in funding for the year.  This year, Voices for Healthy Kids will be working across the nation with the vision that every child can have healthy foods and drinks at home and in school, safe streets for biking and walking, and places to play after school. With thousands of volunteers and dozens of organizations involved, it is possible to ensure that the places where children live, learn, and play make it easy and enjoyable for them to eat healthy foods and be active.

And without the greater movement of Supporters and Leaders engaged in, we know this work would not be possible. We hope you celebrate your achievements this year to help all kids grow up at a healthy weight!