At the Sprouts Healthy Communities Foundation, we believe all kids deserve access to nutritionally dense, fresh foods. Unfortunately, in areas with limited resources, it can be more challenging to get these foods, putting our youngest community members’ health at risk. To ensure each child has the opportunity to live their best life, we partner with organizations working to address childhood obesity and to give kids the knowledge and skills to make healthy food choices.
In the spring of 2020, the Sprouts Healthy Communities Foundation began a two-year partnership with the Orlando Health Foundation in Orange County, Fla. to bring nutrition education programs to youth. Understanding that nearly one-quarter of Orange County residents qualify as overweight or obese, with higher rates among minority, low-income, and physically disabled children, the Orlando Health Foundation knew it was time to step in, and they created the Healthy Lifestyles Program to bring affordable, accessible, and sustainable health programs to deserving kids and families. Currently, the program serves 100 individuals, however, with funding from the Sprouts Healthy Communities Foundation, there are plans to double the number of participants and to expand into undeserved areas of the community.
The program goals are twofold: To address obesity across Orange County through community-based prevention and to enhance program support for non-English speaking participants and youth with physical disabilities.
For the first goal, the Orlando Health Foundation will use its Weekend Wellness Workshops and partnership with the Orlando City Foundation to educate the community on health and obesity. Participants in the Weekend Wellness Workshops will attend six lessons where they will learn nutrition, healthy eating, and fitness concepts. To ensure all families have access to these services, no one will be turned away because of their inability to pay. Within the classes, participants engage in hands-on learning and cooking instruction led by experts, including dieticians and pediatric gastroenterologists, who help families learn how their dietary choices impact their health.
Through their partnership with the Orlando City Foundation (a free soccer club and community gardening organization), the Orlando Health Foundation aims to bring a holistic approach to obesity prevention in kids. By incorporating the Healthy Lifestyles Program teachings into existing youth soccer clubs, the Orlando Health Foundation can reach children across Central Florida as they engage with their teammates in regular fitness and urban gardening programs.
To achieve its second goal, the Orlando Health Foundation plans to create educational videos in multiple languages to teach nutrition concepts. These videos can be viewed by Healthy Lifestyles Program participants both during their in-person instruction and online. Additionally, adaptive exercise equipment, like arm bicycles, will be added into the Healthy Lifestyles program for participants with physical limitations, and a mobile app called CoachCare will launch, allowing for real-time monitoring of meal and exercise progress by the Healthy Lifestyles team.
Through their efforts, the Orlando Health Foundation aims to curb obesity levels in Orange County. By implementing the Healthy Lifestyles program, they are providing children and teens with invaluable lessons so they may rise above challenging circumstances and create a healthier future for themselves.