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NC Childhood Obesity Prevention
Demonstration Project

Stories from the Field

The NC Childhood Obesity Prevention Demonstration Project has shown early success. In each county the health department, preschools, schools, doctors’ offices, faith communities and local clubs are working together to make healthy eating and active living part of each resident’s daily life. As these stories show, the work they are doing changes policies and environments to make it easier for people to eat better and be active.

Moving with the Wind at His Back

Churches are known for their food. Potlucks and Wednesday suppers tempt parishioners – fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, chicken and dumplings, biscuits and gravy, country ham, collards done southern style, sweet tea and every delectable baked good you can imagine.

So where does that leave a minister who believes that living a healthy lifestyle is good stewardship of God’s gift of life? It leaves a man with a whole new meaning of the term “mission work”.

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Preschool Children Spark Change in Parents, Teachers

What do you get when you cross a carrot, some broccoli and a preschooler?

The answer? A birthday cake.

No joke!

This unbelievable phenomenon happened recently in a coastal community of North Carolina. On her recent fifth birthday, Emily*, a Dare County preschooler, insisted that her birthday cake be topped with vegetables – and a few sprinkles for good measure. Her grandmother obliged and Emily loved the outcome –her vegetable-adorned birthday cake.

So what would make a 5-year-old child want to top a birthday cake with vegetables?

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A Little Healthy Competition

There’s nothing like a little competition to make things interesting.

You may not think pitting schools against a local hospital would bring a community together, but in one North Carolina county, that’s just what happened.

In Moore County, North Carolina, good health and obesity prevention have become community priorities. In the process, community health leaders learned that changing communities into healthier places to live, learn, work and play is all about relationships and ingenuity. And a healthy dose of friendly competition doesn’t hurt, either.

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Birth of a Salesman

The sun has just come up and the alarm is going off. It is time for an awakening of sorts. Faith community health educator Mark Bartlett gets up, puts his clothes on and purposefully places a brand new metaphorical hat on his head. Today he is a salesman.

So how did a health educator come to wear a salesman’s hat? For years, Bartlett has worked with multiple faith communities in Moore County, North Carolina to create awareness around healthy living, but it wasn’t until recently that he transformed his way of creating community behavior change.

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A New Kind of Testing in Schools

Lenora Barron, like many physical education teachers, was frustrated. But instead of letting her frustration get the better of her, she got active and took a community right along with her.

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A Sprint to Success

Working in the public sector means coming face-to-face with a number of obstacles. Tight timelines, limited, funding and staff turnover are just some of them.

The Children’s Council in Watauga County, North Carolina met these obstacles and succeeded in spite of them. With only six months from start to finish, they were able to help both childcare staff and the county’s preschool children adopt healthier lifestyles as part of a larger community campaign called the Childhood Obesity Prevention Demonstration Project.

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A New Beginning

Carrie Smith* was worried about her boys. For years the busy Smith family struggled with finding time to eat right and exercise. Carrie herself has struggled with her weight her entire life and did not want her sons to have the same fate - but the boys kept growing bigger. Carrie knew that if something did not change they would be on the path to big health problems in the future. The opportunity for change came one morning when Ms. Smith heard about a new program that was coming to Watauga County.

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The Road to Success

Garret Whitney was about to turn thirteen and was growing fast. His height had shot up six inches, but more importantly, he was quickly putting on pounds past what was considered healthy. He had seen his doctor and was told that he needed to get a handle on his weight now before it became a problem in the future. Garret’s grandparents, who raise him, struggled to help him get to a healthy weight. Their own health problems made it harder for them to be active with him. The family needed help. Garret’s doctor provided the solution in Wake Med ENERGIZE! – a program that would teach the family how to live a healthier lifestyle.

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Hope for the future

Patricia Bing knows kids. As the owner of a preschool for the past eighteen years, Patricia has seen and worked with a lot of children. In recent years, she’s notice that more and more of the kids are overweight or even obese. She knew she wanted to do something to help, but was at a loss as to what to do. She had tried a few things here and there, but really didn’t know what to do. When she went looking for affordable, easy-to-use programs, she came up empty-handed. Until, one fall day, Ms. Bing received a call from a person at the Henderson County Health Department with what might be her answer.

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Ellen gets energized!

Ellen* is a regular 11-year-old girl who enjoys playing soccer and spending time with her friends. Even though she loved running around having fun, she started to gain weight. When her doctor became concerned, her family joined the local YMCA and even tried a local nutrition class. Still, the family found it challenging to make time to get to the Y. And between their fondness for sodas and supersized portions they found it difficult to turn away from the foods they enjoyed. However, Ellen's weight was still a problem and she began to feel self-conscious about how she looked. Concerned for Ellen's health but unsure what steps to take, the family felt stuck and hoped for a solution. One day they received a life-changing phone call.

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* Denotes names have been changed

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