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Where Are They Now? An Update on the Clackamas County Healthy Eating Active Living Program

In part five of a five-part We Are Public Health series update, we feature the continued success of the Clackamas County Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) program in providing mini-grants for community-based projects that increase access to healthy foods and physical activity. We are recognizing the excellent work of our partners as part of our 25th Anniversary.

In part five of a five-part We Are Public Health series update, we feature the continued success of the Clackamas County Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) program in providing mini-grants for community-based projects that increase access to healthy foods and physical activity. We are recognizing the excellent work of our partners as part of our 25th Anniversary.

December 3, 2015

In March 2012, NWCPHP’s We Are Public Health series highlighted the Clackamas County Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) mini-grant program, which empowers communities to set and achieve their own health goals. In 2011–2012, the program awarded $102,482 in mini-grants to 15 projects, including a children’s day camp focused on healthy habits, a training for child care providers, and a community gardening program for youth.

Where Are They Now?
The HEAL grant program in Clackamas County, Oregon is now entering its sixth year. To date, the program has awarded $489,000 in mini-grants to 67 community projects. Through its support, communities have expanded senior fall prevention programs, created community and school gardens, provided nutrition and healthy cooking classes, improved pedestrian access to a town’s only grocery store, created walking trails, expanded farmers markets and greenhouses, created playgrounds, taught skills to at-risk youth, and provided exercise programs.

We Are Public Health 2012-03

The March 2012 We Are Public Health postcard, featuring the Clackamas County Healthy Eating Active Living Program.

The HEAL program sees these activities as part of a larger effort to change systems related to population health, healthy food access, and health equity. By providing health education and activities, the HEAL program seeks to mitigate detrimental health outcomes related to poverty and invest long-term in positive health outcomes. Projects are designed to be sustainable, engaging, and partnership-focused.

The positive impact of these efforts are evident. For example, youth who participated in Girls on the Run, a physical activity based development program for 8 to 13-year-old girls, showed a higher rate of improvement on their aerobic and cardiovascular endurance fitness test (PACER test) than their peers. The Power of Produce (POP) Kids Club, which was started through a HEAL mini grant at the Oregon City Farmers Market, has done so well that it’s been duplicated across the nation. The program teaches youth about local, healthy foods by giving them the power to make their own shopping decisions using vouchers at their local farmers market. Evaluations of the first POP program in Oregon City found that 72% of participants had tried a new fruit or vegetable through the POP Club, and 70% of participating parents reported that their child continues to request produce that he or she tried through the POP Club.

The HEAL program has an eye on future goals. The program is working with Oregon Food Bank to enable bilingual and/or Spanish-speaking parents to be trained to facilitate classes. Additionally, work continues with Metropolitan Family Services to expand the newly created Youth Farmers Market by securing new partners and vendors and by making the market SNAP-eligible.

For more information on the Clackamas County HEAL program, see this video about some of the HEAL projects promoting an active lifestyle and healthier food access and choices.

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