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CRI Healthy Community

High stress, poor eating habits, and lack of regular physical activity have contributed to an epidemic of obesity and chronic disease, especially in low-income neighborhoods. CRI launched the CRI Healthy Community program to harness the strength of families and communities to make positive changes together. When families cook, learn, eat, and play together, they support each other in making lasting improvements to their health and wellness. When community resources are aligned in new ways, access to healthy ideas and habits is increased for everyone.

BACKGROUND

Healthy eating, regular physical activity, and effective stress management are essential for children and families to live healthy and happy lives. Left unmanaged, poor eating habits, lack of physical activity, and persistent stress can result in many unhealthy outcomes.

The CRI Healthy Community program connects community resources – such as schools, health care facilities, faith-based organizations, and recreation sites – using a health-focused approach for generating positive change.

The CRI Healthy Community program gives children and families firsthand experience in physical activity, stress management, and cooking, right in their own community. The program helps families learn how to cook and eat healthier food, manage their stress, and enjoy more healthy family activities together. It is designed to be adapted for cultural relevance and specific community needs in a variety of settings.

How We’re Making a Difference

The CRI Healthy Community program was piloted in 2014 with the non-profit Grow 2B Fit Foundation and Apollo Middle School. The program participants – children ages 10 to 14 and their parents or caregivers – were residents of south Tucson, a primarily low-income, Hispanic/Latino neighborhood where people regularly experience poor health, particularly preventable chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.

Apollo Middle School is also home to a CRI Healthy Garden, where students, staff, and community volunteers plant, harvest, and enjoy vegetables and herbs. Together, these two programs work in tandem to help kids and families forge a deeper and more lasting relationship with healthy living.

Evaluation

Health outcomes and information about participants’ experiences are gathered prior to the start of the program and immediately post program. Outcome measures include blood work, BMI, blood pressure, knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors. Participation in the evaluation component is purely voluntary for all participants.

Some outcomes of the initial pilot of the program include participants reporting they now eat healthier, know more about health and wellness, exercise more, cook at home more often, eat at fast food restaurants less often, manage their stress better, are less depressed, have started a garden, do more activities with their family, lost weight, and are happier in their lives. Physical outcomes for adult participants include a weight loss, lower BMI, lower blood pressure, and lower blood glucose levels. Health outcomes for youth participants include lower blood pressure, fewer unhealthy days per month, feeling healthier, doing more exercise, and an increased ability to identify food groups correctly.

As we continue to offer the program to more adults and youth, CRI will share that outcome data via scholarly publications, presentations, and on this website.