A Houston/Harris County Childhood Obesity Prevention Collaborative 
August, 2014  /  Issue XXIII

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FeaturedArticleKetelsen Trailblazers Advocate for Near Northside

The Ketelsen Trailblazers, a community group formed out of the  Go Neighborhoods project, participated in the Northside Super Neighborhood meeting in July 2014 to discuss their plans to advocate for prioritizing street improvements in Near Northside. The group is working to enhance the case to prioritize renovations to Near Northside's Quitman St. to safely connect people to existing physical activity opportunities and improve general safety and use of the street.   



The Ketelsen Trailblazers will engage their local Ketelsen PTO and other local campuses to increase awareness of the new walking trail using social media, flyers, and recurring meetings during the school year. Ketelsen Trailblazer members plan to join the Houston Coalition of Complete Streets in order to inform the group's ongoing work and demonstrate the need to advocate for additional language to the current Houston Complete Streets Executive Order that will prioritize key areas in low income communities and increase access to safe opportunities for physical activity, such as the Ketelsen SPARK Park walking trail.


Go Neighborhoods is a comprehensive community development approach that leverages resources by working across traditionally disconnected sectors including:  housing and real estate; family income and wealth; economic development; quality education; and healthy environments and lifestyle.  Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) defines these as essential features of a sustainable community.  Avenue CDC serves as the convening agency for this LISC funded program.  


To learn more about LISC GO Neighborhoods, contact Katy Atkiss, Program Officer, at 713-334-5700 or via email at katkiss@lisc.org.  

HLM Members Working Towards Making Breastfeeding the Easy Choice in Harris County   

A conclusive body of evidence linking breastfeeding and prevention of childhood obesity made breastfeeding one of HLM's priority policy strategies. Having just celebrated World Breastfeeding Week (August 1-7, 2014), we are provided an ideal opportunity to recognize the efforts of HLM Collaborative members who are working to make optimal breastfeeding the easy choice in Harris County.


Most of these efforts focus on making Harris County hospitals "baby-friendly" through a Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) designation. Developed by the WHO and UNICEF, the BFHI is considered the "gold standard" of infant feeding policy and is based on the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding, a rigorous series of policy, systems and environmental changes conducted throughout a hospital system. Texas has its own facility-based version, called Texas Ten Step, designed to help hospitals advance toward the BFHI. Below are some recent efforts of HLM Collaborative members to help Harris County hospitals become more "baby-friendly:"

  • Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital, Memorial Hermann in The Woodlands and Harris Health System's Ben Taub Hospital are among 89 hospitals nationwide selected for the National Institute for Children's Health Quality's Best Fed Beginnings, a quality improvement initiative to help hospitals reach the BFHI. Among participating hospitals in the south so far, exclusive breastfeeding has increased from 38% to 61%.
  • WIC programs at Harris County Public Health and Environmental Services, Houston Department of Health and Human Services, and UTHealth are serving on Learning Collaboratives linked with hospital-based teams considered "Star Achievers" in their efforts to move from a Texas Ten Step designation to BFHI. Harris Health System's LBJ Hospital; Memorial Hermann Southeast, Southwest, and Sugarland; and Texas Children's Hospital Pavilion for Women are among the local Star Achievers.
  • Already designated as Texas Ten Step facilities in Houston are: Ben Taub; Children's Memorial Hermann, Memorial Hermann Memorial City, Northwest, Southeast, and Southwest Hospitals; and Texas Children's Hospital Pavilion for Women.

To learn more about these policy initiatives, please visit the following websites:

For more information about breastfeeding policy resources, contact Jennifer Hadayia at jhadayia@hcphes.org  

HLM Workshop on Planning for Economic & Fiscal Health in Pasadena
On August 13, 2014, Healthy Living Matters in partnership with with the City of Pasadena, hosted a workshop titled Planning for Economic & Fiscal Health. This workshop was facilitated by Chris Zimmerman, Vice President for Economic Development and Roger Millar, Vice President & Director of Smart Growth America. During the event participants reviewed the relationship between the economy, health, and the built environment; identified healthy living strategies and how they can support Pasadena's local economy; and developed an action plan for further investigation of healthy built environment opportunities in Pasadena.

Attendees included individuals representing the City of Pasadena, Pasadena ISD, Pasadena Health Center, Armand Bayou Nature Center, Houston-Galveston Area Council and Neighborhood Centers Inc.


During the group session, participants were asked to identify areas for improvement and action items for Pasadena's Healthy Living Matters Action Plan. Some examples of identified action items are:

- Schedule meetings with all city departments 

- Identify new infrastructure funding opportunities  

- Engage new sectors, such as faith-based, civic and business leaders



A report will be developed summarizing recommendations and findings discussed during the workshop. This report will be shared with workshop attendees, City Officials, City Staff, and other groups that make decisions on investments and development for the City of Pasadena. To obtain a copy of this report, contact Katie Chennisi at cchennisi@hcphes.org.  

Member Highlight: Margie Pe�a & Neighborhood Centers Inc. (NCI)

Margie Pe�a, Community Developer for the Cleveland-Ripley Neighborhood Center, located in Pasadena, TX, has been an active member of the HLM-Pasadena Community Task Force since February 2014. Margie represents community-based organizations and assists with community engagement efforts.

The Cleveland-Ripley Neighborhood Center has been open at its current location since 1968 and despite being the second smallest of the NCI centers it is the most heavily utilized. Current programming consists of Adult Education, including GED and ESL, afterschool and summer youth programs, enrichment classes, immigration and citizenship services, and job readiness training. The center serves more than 34,000 people each year from the Pasadena and South Houston area and as the surrounding neighborhoods have grown, so has the community's need for expanded services and programs. 


Included in the NCI manifesto is the commitment to "stronger.safer.healthier.smarter." communities, which is how Margie became involved in HLM-Pasadena. As a result of this partnership, HLM has actively participated in the Cleveland-Ripley Back to School Health Fair and worked together to host a Bike for Health event on August 21st, providing education on the importance of bike safety, bike-related policies, and ways to make Pasadena more bike friendly.  
FeaturedResourceFeatured Resource: Childhood Obesity Prevention Toolkit for Rural Communities

Nemours, a foundation that operates an integrated children's health system, prepared a Childhood Obesity Prevention Toolkit for Rural Communities. The toolkit provides a range of strategies and success stories to assist practitioners in child-serving sectors, including: early care and education, schools, out-of-school time, community initiatives and healthcare. The toolkit also includes policy recommendations and an overview of the evaluation process. 

The Bayou Greenways Plan: a game-changer for Houston? 
Jen Powis of the Houston Parks Board has described the greenway project as a cross between the Atlanta Beltline and the Portland Bike Master Plan, which "re-envisions transportation" in the city. The project is undoubtedly ambitious, but it remains to be seen whether the city will create safe street-level walking and biking connections to the greenway network. Full Article

Frito-Lay and the PepsiCo Foundation invest in Dallas kids 

Frito-Lay and the PepsiCo Foundation have set a new precedent in single corporate investment given to the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas with their $700,000 grant. The funds will be used to help expand the United Way's Healthy Zone School program from 51 schools in Dallas to 90 in Dallas-Fort Worth as a whole, including outside United Way of Metro Dallas' coverage area in Arlington. Full Article

How Brownsville is using bikes to address social problems

Brownsville, a Texas border town, is frequently cited as one of the poorest cities in the country. It also has one of the highest obesity rates. But local officials have taken on some of the city's health problems and one of the key tools they're using is cycling. Full Article 

Pedestrians more at risk in poor neighborhoods - Results hold true in Houston

The Houston region was included in the study conducted by Governing Magazine and the local results of the analysis followed the national trend. In neighborhoods with poverty rates greater than 25 percent, 13.7 pedestrians were killed per 100,000 residents, while in neighborhoods with poverty rates less than 15 percent 5.6 pedestrians were killed per 100,000 residents. Full Article 


APHA supports DeLauro bill to tax sugar-sweetened beverages
Citing the "overwhelming link" between sugar-sweetened beverage consumption and the "skyrocketing rates" of preventable diseases, U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., along with Reps. Jim Moran, D-Va., and Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., introduced the Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Tax Act, called the SWEET Act, this week, which proposes a tax of 1 cent per teaspoon of caloric sweetener, such as sugar or high-fructose corn syrup. Full Article

Chicagoans choose healthy food over junk in vending-machines: study

Chicagoans feeding dollars into park vending machines are buying granola bars and dried fruit instead of mini donuts and cheesy potato chips - and they're not complaining, according to a study by Northwestern University. Full Article

Most kids are cool with healthy school lunches

A recent study suggests that most elementary age students are okay with eating the healthier school lunches required by the USDA. Despite early complaints from kids when the new menus were introduced in the fall of 2012, researchers found that by the second half of the school year, sales of school meals were up among disadvantaged kids, an important target audience for the healthier fare. Full Article    


2014 Bicycle Friendly Communities released   

The League of American Bicyclists recently announced its latest round of Bicycle Friendly Communities (BFC). With nearly 40 million Americans bicycling in 2012 and U.S. bike commuting increasing more than 61% from 2000 to 2012, there's growing consensus that making biking better is a key component of a healthy, livable community. Full Article      



2014 State Indicator Report on Physical Activity. Full Report 


Paths, Pedals & Playgrounds: Leveraging the Power of Safe Routes to School. Full Report  


Student Reactions During the First Year of Updated School Lunch Nutrition Standards. Research Brief  


America's Poor Neighborhoods Plagued by Pedestrian Deaths. Full Report  


Substantial Decline in Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Consumption Among California's Children an Adolescents. Full Article  


The Effectiveness of Community-Based Programs for Obesity Prevention and Control.



Webinar: Navigating Private & Public Partnerships for Sustainability 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014 from 1:00 PM - 2:30 PM CST 

More information  


WALK HOUSTON Civic Forum   

Wednesday, August 27, 2014 from 6:30 PM CST 

Brown Auditorium, MFA H, 1001 Bissonnet St., Houston, TX 77005 


National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month  

September 2014 

More information    


To view more events, visit our Calendar of Events webpage.