By Sara Paulson, Health First
Proper nutrition and physical activity can help stave off a host of health problems. That’s why Health First is determined to pass healthy habits on to Brevard’s most impressionable
residents – children.
“Health First is committed to improving the health and well-being of the residents in Brevard County,” said Drew Rector, Health First’s executive vice president and chief strategy officer. “By teaching children how to make simple, healthier choices, they can improve their quality of life in the short- and long-term. That, in turn, helps our community to be healthier as a whole.”
It’s an important step, as the number of overweight or obese children in Brevard County increased by 37 percent between 2013 and 2016. Health First is working with community partners to reverse that trend. Focusing in particular on alternative ways to encourage physical activity among 12- to 15-year-olds, funding and tools being provided to make better choices include support of:
Family BeFit program, a nutrition education and physical activity program for underserved youth.
My Community Cares, a safe haven for teens after school and during the summer offering meals and activities
Space Coast Crew, a competitive rowing team for middle and high school students.
Fueling Kids and Kids in the Kitchen programs through the Junior League of South Brevard.
Space Coast Sled Hockey, a hockey team dedicated to disabled youth and adults.
Boys & Girls Clubs, where Family BeFit and Smart Moves self-improvement programs are implemented, as well as health fairs at three Brevard branches.
Hope for North Brevard, providing summertime youth programs for North Brevard’s underserved.
By teaching children how to make simple, healthier choices, they can improve their quality of life in the short- and long-term. That, in turn, helps our community to be healthier as a whole. – Drew Rector, Health First’s executive vice president and chief strategy officer.
As a not-for-profit community health system, Health First conducts a CHNA every three years to assess Brevard County’s community health needs. The 2016 findings helped the Health First community benefit steering committee identify two major disparities in Brevard – in addition to helping improve the nutrition and physical activity of Brevard’s underserved residents who struggle with their weight (including obesity), Health First is committed to assisting adults without access to healthcare services.