FCS Spotlight, Northeast Region - April 2022

by Cathy Agan

Welcome to the Silly Walking Track sign.

Children at J. S. Clark Magnet School in Monroe, LA are excited to use their school walking track and are doing more than leisurely walking thanks to the addition of “Silly Walking Track” signs. Environmental prompts that encourage physical activity are important since obesity can have strong negative effects on our health and economy. According to the “State of Childhood Obesity” data from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Louisiana ranks 3rd in the nation for children (ages 10 to 17) who are obese with a childhood obesity rate of 22.2%. The data for adult obesity is even worse with Louisiana ranking at the top with an adult obesity prevalence of 38.1% (CDC).

Many different factors can affect the health of a community. The Community Health Needs Assessment conducted by St. Francis Medical Center in Monroe, LA revealed that “Obesity and sedentary lifestyles are a major concern for the people of this region and are a contributing factor to other concerns.” Obesity/sedentary lifestyles was identified as one of the nine significant community health needs. A community’s health may be improved through the institution of policies, systems, and environmental (PSE) changes that aim to help make the healthy choice the easy choice. Healthy eating and physical activity are keys to preventing obesity and the comorbidities that may accompany it including some types of cancers.

Through a Focus Forum held at J. S. Clark Magnet, the need for encouraging children to be physically active through use of the existing school walking track was discussed. “Silly Walking Track” signs were designed and installed at the school track to prompt children to move towards more moderate to vigorous physical activity while walking on the track. The Silly Walking Track signs at J. S. Clark Magnet School have been well received by kids, teachers, and community members. A representative from the sign company that installed the signs at J. S. Clark Magnet School said the kids immediately came running over to see the signs and automatically started doing what the signs prompted them to do. He said they were so happy while following the signs on the track. Other physical activity prompts and equipment are also being added to the school playground as well physical activity equipment for use during indoor play.

Plans are also underway to install “Silly” Walking Track” signs at Charles Johnson Park in Monroe. Community partners hope to help sustain these Healthy Communities projects. Funding will continue to be sought to bring the signs to other locations for children and parents.

4/22/2022 3:04:39 PM
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