City of Arlington and UTA team up to address childhood obesity
The U.S. Conference of Mayors and the American Beverage Foundation for a Healthy America recently announced the distribution of $745,000 in grants to nine cities, including Arlington, named winners of the 2023 Childhood Obesity Prevention & Environmental Health and Sustainability Awards.
The grants aim to support programs that address childhood obesity, environmental health and sustainability by encouraging community members to engage in healthier behaviors.
The city of Arlington will use its $50,000 grant to launch the Healthy Connections: A Healthy Arlington initiative in partnership with The University of Texas at Arlington. The city and UTA aim to disseminate information about existing healthy initiatives and programs in the Arlington area, tailor new programs for children and facilitate and encourage safe outlets for exercise for adults and children alike.
“While we strive to promote sustainability and healthy activities for our entire community, the Healthy Connections program will focus on Central and East Arlington areas where residents experience fewer healthy food choices, lower median incomes, higher obesity rates, more food deserts, and fewer safe places to walk and bike,” Planning and Development Services Director Gincy Thoppil said.
Patricia Sinel, the long-range planning manager, and Aimee-Rockhill Carpenter, the health services manager, will oversee this project from the city’s side. They will work with UT Arlington’s Chief Sustainability Officer Meghna Tare and the Institute of Urban Studies.
Tare said that UT Arlington is a leader in sustainability and is a responsible steward of the campus environment.
“Our various sustainability programs—including promotion of walking and biking—demonstrate our commitment to sustainability and healthy communities,” Tare said. “Through this partnership with the city of Arlington, UTA will address childhood obesity, environmental health and sustainability by encouraging community members to engage in healthier behaviors.”
The award application stemmed from the concerns raised by the city’s Unity Council regarding the dissemination of health and wellness information and the availability of healthy living opportunities for Arlington’s residents. Through the Healthy Connections initiative, the city plans to create a webpage linking all existing programs and to develop a web-based series and local activities addressing sustainability and healthy activities, including walkability programs, for children and families. The city also plans to create a walkability database for existing safe walks in Arlington and use walk audits to report on the accessibility, conditions and shortfalls of existing sidewalks in East and Central Arlington.
Since the beginning of their partnership in 2012, the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the American Beverage Foundation for a Healthy America have jointly awarded 68 cities across the country with 75 grants worth $5.8 million. Those awards have supported programs for enhancing health, wellness and environmental quality of life for children and families.
"Thanks to our years-long partnership with the American Beverage Foundation for a Healthy America, the conference has invested in cities to innovate on their most pressing health needs. America's cities are on the front lines of the nation's health and environmental struggles, and mayors are rising to the challenge. We are proud to enable these kinds of local-led, community-driven solutions," said Tom Cochran, CEO and executive director of the mayor’s group.
- Written by Susan Schrock, City of Arlington