Hartford addresses children’s health issues

June 13, 2013 by  

Hartford, Connecticut, is taking a proactive stance with regard to children’s health, as the city plans to build a Children’s Fitness/Wellness Center.

Plans for the center were made public on Friday, May 31, at the Family Life Education building, which will house the new facility. The purpose of the new center is to give urban, low-income families access to programs that will help them improve their fitness and health. The programs will be free, and are designed to combat the increasingly serious problem of childhood obesity.

Statistics show that 23% of Hartford’s kindergarteners are overweight, and perhaps even more unsettling is the fact that over 33% of the city’s three-year-olds are also overweight. The numbers come from a study carried out in 2012 by the University of Connecticut. Researchers measured 1,586 children and found 17% were overweight and 20% were obese. These figures are twice as high as they should be for children that age.

The new program will center on three specific issues: child development, childhood obesity, and nutrition. With regard to nutrition and obesity, the center will have a kitchen in which chefs will teach families about healthy cooking, including sharing recipes for nutritional meals. In addition, family-oriented programs in fitness, education, dance, and physical and cognitive development will address child development issues.

The biggest problem facing the center is fundraising, but Flores said some long-time supporters, as well as corporations such as Aetna, have already stepped up.

Flores and others at the center could work with brochure printers to develop a mailer for area residents, explaining the center’s mission and asking for support.