.

Finally – progress in the fight for healthy kids

“We now have a vegetable with dinner every day—whether it be from our garden or not,” says a mom and participant in the Backyard Growers Program.  This program helps low- and moderate-income families plant and harvest from raised-bed gardens in their backyards. 

This is just one of several innovative local responses to the childhood obesity epidemic in the US.  But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finally have good news.  This week it was reported that obesity rates have dropped 43 percent among 2- to 5-year-old children over the past decade nationwide.  MA is one of just 19 states seeing a decrease in rates.

Part of the Cape Ann Farmers Market, Backyard Growers is one of 10 programs that have been funded by the North Shore United Way’s Women in Action initiative.  Women in Action is the North Shore’s first focused response to the issue that engages people in both philanthropy and volunteerism for local programs that increase access to healthy food, sound nutrition, and physical activity for children and families. In its report, the CDC sites citizens groups like Women in Action and innovative local programs like Backyard Growers for nudging the childhood obesity rate down and offering a solution that improves the health and well being to America’s youth.

In addition to supporting philanthropic efforts like Women in Action, there are many people can get involved in the effort to increase access to healthy food and physical activity.

•    Like to garden?  Become a mentor for the Backyard Growers program and share your experience with someone who is starting out.  Or maybe you have a truck?  If so, you have a great resource to this growing program. (MORE)

•    Enjoy preparing healthy food and have a heart for those who struggle to put enough of it on the table?  Consider helping prepare community meals with The Open Door, a Gloucester based pantry that has led the way in the nutrition movement. (MORE)

•    Have experience swimming or in other sports?  Become a swim instructor or volunteer assistant coach for one of the North Shore Y’s leagues.  You do not need to be a professional athlete, but have a love of sports and a concern for instilling Caring, Honesty, Respect and Responsibility in children of all ages. (MORE)

•    Enjoy volunteering with young children? Beverly Children’s Learning Center runs a Happy Healthy Fit Kids program that introduces their children to being active and eating healthy foods both inside and outside of the classroom. They seek classroom helpers. (MORE)

These are just four of many ways to become engaged in building a stronger, healthier community listed on the North Shore Volunteer Hub, a new website from the North Shore United Way helping residents find meaningful, local volunteer opportunities.

Volunteer opportunities are meaningful when you know you are meeting a real community need. But it will only last if it is also a good fit for your skills, availability, and interests.  Found at nsuw.org, the Volunteer Hub allows you to search by issue or need until you find the right volunteer match. 


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The North Shore United Way invests almost $1M each year in projects that transform lives and improve communities now and for future generations.  NSUW is all about local impact by rigorously vetting and supporting 25 causes that serve children, families, and seniors in eight North Shore communities, including Beverly, Hamilton, Wenham, Ipswich, Essex, Manchester, Gloucester and Rockport.  For more information about the projects funded by NSUW donors and how to get involved, visit nsuw.org.



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