Healthy Kids' Focuses: Play and Policy

Date Published: 06/27/17 07:20:pm

Heal Reno County's Healthy Kids work group is promoting active play for kids and families while also working with Reno County schools to implement policies that improve the nutrition environment and ensure opportunities for physical activity in schools. Among the group's dozen active members are parents of young and school-aged children, school nurses and nutritionists, a school board member, a preschool director, physical education teachers and other community advocates representing programs and agencies such as Parents as Teachers, Hutch Rec, and Hutchinson Community Foundation.

Organizing three Pop-Up Play Dates this summer at lesser-known Reno County parks is one way the Healthy Kids work group is promoting active play for kids and families. The Pop-Up nature of these gatherings means that in addition to enjoying playground equipment, parents and kids have the opportunity to interact with one another through activities such as blowing bubbles, tossing frisbees, and drawing with sidewalk chalk. Activities at the play dates may vary, but the goals are the same: Encourage parents and kids to have healthy, active interactions with one another and with other families and expose families to Reno County parks they may not normally visit.

Healthy Kids work group chairperson, Amy Conkling, shared, "It was exciting to hear parents make comments like, 'Wow, I didn't know this park existed!' and see both kids and adults truly engaging with one another."

Over 40 parents and kids attended the first Pop-Up Play Date at Garden Grove Park. The dates and locations of the upcoming Pop-Up Play Dates are available on the Heal Reno County Facebook events page.

Healthy Kids is also focused on improving children's health through school policy. The group has formed a sub-committee dedicated to encouraging schools as they move toward implementation of the Kansas State Department of Education's (KSDE) school wellness policies. Because Reno County is the recipient of a Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Kansas Pathways to a Healthy Kansas grant, our county's schools are eligible to apply for implementation grants of up to $10,000 as they move nutrition and physical activity policies toward KSDE's "Modeling" level.

Sub-committee members have made contact with several schools throughout the county. Members are excited by the positive responses they have received and the willingness of schools to work toward these policy changes that will have a positive impact on students' health.

If you are interested in learning more about the work of Heal's Healthy Kids work group, please contact chairperson Amy Conkling or express your interest here.

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