Monday, October 26, 2009
I thought I'd take a quick break from talking about research today to advocate for a new campaign which I think will interest many of our Ontario readers, especially those who are interested in childhood obesity. The program is called Spark Together for Healthy Kids, and is being coordinated by the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario in the hopes of reducing childhood overweight and obesity, which currently affects 28% of Ontario children.
A background document on the program is available here, which makes a strong case that childhood obesity is a society problem, and requires a societal solution. Thus, the goal of the campaign is to encourage a public movement in support of a healthier future for Ontario's children, and individuals are encouraged to join the campaign by signing The Spark Promise to our Children, which advocates for healthy, active places for kids to play. People are also invited to join the Spark Facebook Group where they can connect with other individuals who feel strongly about childhood obesity, physical activity, and nutrition. To me, the Facebook group is the coolest thing about this initiative, and I would encourage readers from anywhere in the world to check it out by clicking here. Ending the childhood obesity epidemic is going to require that we come together as a community to advocate for positive changes, and this Facebook page is a great way to connect with like-minded individuals. I've also got to say that it's nice to see a campaign like this using new media to engage their audience, and I hope that this becomes the norm for other public health initiatives.
The final, and perhaps most important part of the Spark Campaign are its Community Advocacy Grants, which awards up to $25,000 to communities in order to advocate for increased access to physical activity and healthy food. I should point out that many grants cannot be used for advocacy purposes whatsoever, so this grant fills a niche that most other grant programs don't. I have embedded a video below detailing a YMCA which received a Spark Grant to advocate for healthier schools in Muskoka, Ontario (email subscribers can view the video on the Obesity Panacea website). If you are interested in advocating for improved health in your school or community but need funding to support your project, this may represent a great opportunity.
Have you been involved with a project that has received a Spark Community Advocacy Grant? We'd love to hear about your experience in the comments section below.
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