Kids who attended our 2020 Champions for Health Youth Summit put their plans to make a better world onto cotton squares that were later stitched into two quilts by artist NedRa Bonds.
Two-hundred students designed quilt squares based on the stories NedRa told them about other youth activists and the question for the day, "What is your leadership superpower?"
NedRa is an American quilter, activist and retired teacher, born in Kansas City, Kansas and raised in the historic Quindaro neighborhood. Read more about NedRa
Congratulations to the following classrooms that participated in the Champions for Health Challenge! Winning classrooms will receive $1000 awards for health and wellness projects at their schools.
See the Winning Submissions
The challenge encourages students to think critically about how their surroundings—walking trails or broken sidewalks, safe playgrounds or blighted lots, schoolyard gardens or fast food restaurants—impact their health.
Past winners have purchased playground equipment, water bottle fountains, pedal desks, and hosted Zumba parties, local food tastings and more. All projects are designed for kids by kids.
Since the contest began in 2013, KC Healthy Kids has awarded $61,000 to 136 classrooms in the six-county metro area.
Challenge Winners – $1,000 Awards
Honorable Mention Recipients – $100 Awards
Learn more about the Champions for Health Challenge
On December 27, 2020 the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 was signed into law. The $900 billion pandemic relief bill extends and enhances aid programs that were set to expire at the end of the year.
A full summary of the bill is available here. Our policy team has highlighted emergency relief for food and farm programs, workers and businesses.
Food and Farm Workers
Food and Farm Businesses
For more information and resources, check out our COVID-19 Policy Resource Guide.
By Nancy Osborn, Ph.D., Psychologist/Trainer
The pandemic has brought greater focus on the inequities that exist in our communities.
It appears that the inequities are only getting worse. Many have lost their jobs and are facing mounting bills and crucial concerns about housing, food, and basic necessities.
The more fortunate and privileged are now working from home but may still be stressed about maintaining their jobs and navigating a new structure and responsibilities in their home with remote learning.
With all these stressors, it is no wonder that news sources are reporting increasing mental health issues.
The good news is that we can all stay centered and calmer if we first recognize that we are profoundly impacted by these life changes and then regularly participate in activities to care for ourselves.
One of the recommendations is for people to focus on their own self-care to help ease the daily stressors almost all of us are experiencing. Another recommendation could be made that we need to also focus on community self-care.
Most of us have likely heard that “we are all in this together,” which is moving in the direction of community self-care, but it is important for all of us to think about how we might intentionally take care of our communities.
Many people may not quite understand why self-care is so important, especially because it may seem selfish. There also may be some misunderstanding of what is meant by self-care since some people think of self-care as small luxuries we “treat” ourselves to like a manicure/pedicure.
The true meaning of self-care
Someone said “true self-care is making a life that you don’t need to regulate or escape from.”
Self-care in this context includes remembering to eat as healthy as possible, getting enough sleep, getting moderate exercise, going to the doctor when necessary, and making time for some downtime if at all possible.
We also obviously need to make time for breathing and spiritual practices and time to connect with others safely. It is the same principle espoused by flight attendants who tell passengers that they need to first put the oxygen mask on themselves and then attend to others. We have to focus on ourselves first to be able to take care of our responsibilities.
Currently, and actually always, it is also important for us to think about community self-care. Let’s face it, we need each other.
Our lives are fuller because we have each other so it is important that we take care of each other. So what are some ways we can do this?
Right now one of the relatively small ways we can do this is to wear a mask, to keep physically distanced from others, wash our hands frequently, etc. as recommended by the CDC. This is a great example of individual and community self-care because it keeps us and others safe.
Another way community self-care can be practiced is to challenge the inequities that have and are occurring. The easiest place to start is to listen to personal stories and learn from them. We can do what we can to ensure people have fresh food, or donate money or goods to nonprofits and agencies that serve our communities. We can also take an active interest in the governance of our communities by reading relevant news articles, watching live streams of city council meetings and education board meetings, and contacting our representatives.
It is crucial for us to think of how we can assist others in this challenging time. It is truly good self-care for us as individuals as well as for our communities to think about what each of us can do to help others.
This post was originally published on Health Forward Foundation's blog as part of a series.
Update November 19, 2020 We are thrilled to announce the Complete Streets ordinance was passed unanimously by the UG Board of Commissioners this evening! Thank you to BikeWalkKC for leading this collaborative effort and all of the community organizations who supported Complete Streets in Kansas City, Kansas and Wyandotte County.
Update October 26, 2020 The Complete Streets ordinance unanimously passed the Public Works and Safety committee this evening and will head to the Board of Commissioners for a vote on November 19, 2020. If you live or work in Kansas City, Kansas or Wyandotte County, join us in speaking out for safe and accessible streets for people of all ages, abilities and modes of transportation.
Next month, the United Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas will vote on a Complete Streets ordinance nearly ten years after passing a resolution stating their commitment to Complete Streets. We support this Complete Streets ordinance, and here’s why.
Why do we need Complete Streets?
Physical activity, like walking and biking, is good for kids’ physical, cognitive and mental health. The 2020 Kansas City Regional Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth reports that just 5.7% of kids in the Kansas City metro walk to school. Traffic-related danger is one of the main reasons parents are afraid to let their kids walk or bike to school, and for good reason. Earlier this year, a middle-schooler and a school crossing guard were hit and injured or killed by cars in Kansas City, Kansas. But pedestrian injuries and fatalities are not inevitable. Our streets are dangerous because they are designed for cars, not people. Sidewalks and walking paths can ease fears and promote safe physical activity, but only 32% of residents in Wyandotte County live in a highly walkable neighborhood, according to National Walkability Index.
What are Complete Streets?
Complete Streets policies set standards so streets are designed to be safe and accessible for people of all ages, abilities and modes of transportation, including kids walking and biking to school or the park. Complete Streets reduce injuries and deaths from vehicle crashes and improve pedestrian safety by slowing and calming traffic. The 2019 Dangerous by Design report shows that people of color and people in low-income neighborhoods are disproportionately impacted by pedestrian fatalities, often because infrastructure is lacking or in poor condition due to ongoing disinvestment. People living in these neighborhoods are also more likely to lack access to a vehicle and experience poor health outcomes. That's why the United Government’s Complete Streets ordinance prioritizes low-income neighborhoods and communities of color.
Learn how you can speak out for walkable neighborhoods and healthy communities with The Walking Detective or Champions for Health so kids have safe routes for walking and biking.
Images: Google Maps
By Nancy Osbrn, Ph.D., Psychologist/Trainer
The COVID-19 crisis has brought concerns for mental health issues to the forefront for almost everyone. However, one group that is often overlooked is the very young.
Often it is difficult for parents, child care providers, and other caregivers to realize that even preschoolers can meet the diagnostic criteria for certain mental health disorders. For many adults, it is hard to believe that children under the age of five can develop cases of clinical depression and clinical anxiety that require professional help.
So, how do you know if a young child needs help?
It may be confusing to spot the difference between a normal response to the sudden changes we are all experiencing, and the more dramatic symptoms connected to a clinical illness. As a result of COVID-19, almost everyone is feeling more vulnerable, worried, and afraid.
In the context of COVID-19, it is normal for preschoolers to exhibit anxiety or even depressed behavior because of the multitude of sudden changes to their routine and their environment. Right now, their parents may also exhibit a variety of emotions and they may express more frustration than normal from changes at work and home. Parental changes naturally impact a young child’s emotional status.
How can parents determine the difference between normal emotional reactions and a possible mental health disorder when nothing seems normal and everything seems changed?
As with all clinical disorders, a professional diagnosis involves identifying a certain number of symptoms that are exhibited, understanding a certain length of time that the symptoms have persisted, and evaluating the degree in which an individual’s day-to-day functioning is impacted.
During the pandemic, emotions run high and some people describe feeling like they are caught on a roller coaster of up-and-down emotions. The ability to function as usual is being impacted across age groups, but a definite external stressor is causing the situation. For most of us, feeling anxious, afraid, angry, frustrated, and many other emotions is a normal response that is easily explained. As long as individuals are generally able to function most of the time under these stressors, they would not meet the criteria for a mental health diagnosis.
The same is true for preschoolers. Tantrums, withdrawal, and behavioral regression are an expected response to changes in environment, schedules, and routines. However, if your little one shows consistent tendencies to be anxious or depressed, you need to pay close attention.
Some symptoms associated with childhood anxiety and depression include (but are not limited to) the following:
If your child showed these tendencies prior to the pandemic and now you are observing even more significant concerning behaviors, it would be wise to get an evaluation. Early interventions can assist in improving developmental outcomes which leads to a better future for your child.
In addition to the child’s health, pay attention to the health of your child’s caretaker — especially if that primary caretaker is you. Infants and young children are especially vulnerable because they have to rely on others to take care of them. Caretakers help influence how children respond to situations that occur in their lives. Children will show more resilience if their caretakers help them feel safe and pay attention to fulfilling the needs of their emotional and social development.
What can caretakers do to help kids?
If any adult or child is so overwhelmed that their functioning has significantly decreased, an evaluation by a medical or mental health professional is recommended. More resources are available through telehealth than ever before.
This article was originally published on Health Forward Foundation's blog.
Here are 10 ways you can speak out for good food policy in Kansas City today and everyday.
Why should I teach my child mindfulness? If you’re a parent who currently practices mindfulness, you already know the answer to this question. If you’re new to the practice, it might surprise you to learn there are many positive aspects of mindfulness.
Kansas and Missouri are among just 14 states that have not expanded Medicaid. This must change, and we need your help.
Many of our initiatives at KC Healthy Kids focus on improving community food security, which is defined as a condition in which all community residents obtain a safe, culturally acceptable, nutritionally adequate diet through a sustainable food system that maximizes community self-reliance and social justice. By its very definition, community food security means building food system equity. We cannot succeed in that goal without addressing racial injustice.