A City Platform for Children and Families - A Healthy Lifestyle and Environment

We recognize our responsibility to promote health and wellness so that our children can reach their full potential.

Transportation and land use policies that promote walking and biking as well as neighborhood park and playground development can encourage physical activity. City parks and recreation departments can also play a major role in encouraging physical fitness and active lifestyles. Mayors and other city leaders can also enhance families' access to healthy foods by working with community groups to enroll eligible families in the federal food stamp and child nutrition programs, attract super-markets to underserved neighborhoods, and promote farmers' markets and community gardens. City-school partnerships offer particularly promising ways to promote healthy lifestyles and environments, including through the development of community wellness plans. By collaborating with school districts, municipal leaders can help educate young people about healthy food choices and improve their eating habits. Removing snack foods and soft drinks from schools, offering more nutritious food choices in school cafeterias, and ensuring that young people have an opportunity to be physically active during the school day are some of the steps that city and school leaders can take when working together.

Finally, the health of local residents depends greatly upon their access to health care and information that enables young people to avoid too-early pregnancy and risky behaviors.  Municipal leaders can play key roles in connecting families to public health insurance programs and supporting health education efforts targeting children and youth.

Examples of local targets to consider:

  • Miles of bike routes and walking paths;
  • Number of neighborhood parks and playgrounds;
  • Proportion of eligible families enrolled in public health insurance programs and federal food stamp (SNAP) and child nutrition programs;
  • Number of supermarkets or farmers' markets in low-income neighborhoods;
  • Childhood obesity rates;
  • Levels of physical activity among children and youth; and
  • Teen pregnancy and substance abuse rates.