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Letter: Join in Fight Against Obesity

— To the Editor:

In response to the article, “Smashing Silos” (May 22, 2014) about the youth master plan, I would like to clarify what the Alexandria Childhood Obesity Action Network is and what it does. The Alexandria Childhood Obesity Action Network (A-COAN), a workgroup of the Partnership for a Healthier Alexandria, is a group of individuals and public and private organizations committed to addressing the childhood obesity epidemic in the city. It includes among its members representatives from ACPS, city departments, local businesses, nonprofit organizations that serve Alexandrians, and community members. As part of our work, we have helped establish children’s gardens at local public and private facilities, organized a healthy pre-school network to provide training for early childhood providers on healthy eating and active living, conducted a playspace assessment and promoted the passage of a city playspace policy to inform the ongoing development of public and private playspaces across Alexandria, and supported playground improvements at one housing complex and schoolyard improvements at two ACPS elementary schools. We inaugurated a Healthy Employer Awards Program to recognize local employers who promote health and wellness at their worksite, and at the end of this month will host a training for local businesses on making their businesses breastfeeding friendly for new mothers. We are currently working with the city to improve the vending options in machines in city facilities, and we have been instrumental in helping two farmers’ markets (one of which is city-run) establish and promote SNAP at their markets. A-COAN is intentional about breaking down silos and working across sectors to address childhood obesity in Alexandria because ending this epidemic in Alexandria is everyone’s responsibility. We invite anyone concerned about this issue to join our efforts. Information on how to get involved with A-COAN is available on the Partnership's website: http://healthieralexandria.org/HealthyLifestyles/content.aspx?id=29894

Tricia Rodgers

Chair, Alexandria Childhood Obesity Action Network