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Committee puts emphasis on healthy kids

April 05, 2006|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, PA.

A 2002 survey of behavioral health risks estimated that about 62 percent of Franklin County adults were overweight with approximately 24 percent qualifying as obese based on their body mass index.

Those are figures that the Healthy Communities Partnership of Greater Franklin County does not want to see passed on to the next generation.

Realizing that old habits in older people are hardest to change, "the partnership has been focused more at this point on getting kids more physically active," said Jan Crudden, the executive director of the partnership, a coalition of educational, social service, health care and other organizations. In changing lifestyles, she said, "the most success you're likely to have is by working with kids."

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This is National Public Health Week and the partnership is supporting a series of events to highlight this year's theme, "Designing Healthy Communities: Raising Healthy Kids."

"It's about making communities places that encourage kids to be healthy," Crudden said Tuesday after one of the events, a presentation of a poster to the Franklin County Board of Commissioners from a group of King Street Elementary School students. That includes the very way communities are physically structured, she said.

How homes, schools, parks, walkways and businesses are designed and situated can have an effect on the health of the children and adults who live within a community, Crudden said. The closer someone lives to school, work or shopping, the more likely they are to leave the car at home and walk, she said.

That is more easily achieved in an urban setting with existing neighborhood schools, shopping and other amenities integrated within an area, Crudden said. Examples of improving that environment include Chambersburg's reconstruction of Roland Avenue near Faust Junior High School to include curbs, sidewalks and bike paths, which is being paid for largely with a state Safe Routes to School grant, and a similar plan near Stevens Elementary School, she said.

The same can be achieved in designing new developments to encourage walking, biking and other physical activity, she said.

People can assess how healthy their neighborhoods are for children by taking an online "Pop Quiz" at www.hcpfranklinpa.org.

At 8 a.m. Friday, the partnership will host a community meeting at Summit Health Center on Norland Avenue with guest speaker Serina Gaston of the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

Healthy Kids Day activities will be held at the Waynesboro (Pa.) YMCA from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday and from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at the Chambersburg YMCA.




If you go



Friday: At 8 a.m., the Healthy Communities Partnership of Greater Franklin County will host a community meeting at Summit Health Center on Norland Avenue with guest speaker Serina Gaston of the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

Saturday: Healthy Kids Day at the Waynesboro (Pa.) YMCA from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Sunday: Healthy Kids Day at the Chambersburg YMCA from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

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