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Faithful Families Thriving Communities

The Faithful Families Thriving Communities (Previously Faithful Families Eating Smart and Moving More) works directly in communities of faith to promote healthy eating and physical activity for individuals, families, and local communities. The program is open to all faith and religious traditions and engages faith communities in health education, environmental changes to support health, and community-wide health initiatives.

Resources for the program include a nine-session Eating Smart and Moving More curriculum, Chronic Disease Lessons, and the Planning Guide for Faithful Families.

The Faithful Families curriculum and lessons are co-taught by nutrition and physical activity educators from Extension and local health departments and trained lay leaders from faith communities. The nine-lesson curriculum and Chronic Disease Lessons include simple, discussion-based lessons that help participants to plan, shop, fix and eat healthier meals. They also include tips for moving more, healthy recipes with taste testing, and discussion questions that connect participants’ spiritual and physical health. The Chronic Disease Lessons provide additional strategies for reducing risk of four chronic conditions: prediabetes, diabetes, cancer, and hypertension.

Program facilitators also work each faith community to consider policy and environmental changes that could support health for their members and local community. The Planning Guide for Faithful Families assists faith leaders in adopting such changes in their faith community and establishing health communities. As of August 2018, Faithful Families has led to more than 250 policy and environmental changes in faith communities across North Carolina. These include changes like establishing policies to serve water at all events, creating a farmers’ market on-site at the community of faith, establishing guidelines that all meals offered at the faith community must be healthy, establishing physical activity breaks for all meetings, opening up spaces for physical activity on faith community grounds for community usage, and establishing community gardens.

Faithful Families has been accepted as a “Practice-Tested Intervention” by the Center for Training and Research Translation (Center TRT). Center TRT, in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Nutrition and Physical Activity Program to Prevent Obesity and Other Chronic Diseases, has developed a process for reviewing, translating and disseminating interventions. This process is applied to obesity prevention interventions that have been tested through research studies or have been developed and evaluated in practice. Interventions are recommended by expert reviewers and CDC for dissemination. Faithful Families is the first faith-based intervention to achieve this status.

“First Baptist Church has a community minded vision for promoting health in our county. In 2000, we built a Family Life Center for the members of the church and made it available at no cost to the community. Our vision is to impact our community for Christ by providing community members with a safe, welcoming place to exercise. A variety of programs are offered including yoga, aerobics and Zumba classes, as well as use of our fitness room. Our facilities are well used by our community youth. We annually host Upward basketball and cheerleading with over 400 participants, open gym play for all ages from seniors to preschoolers, and many sports camps. We have had a community garden for the past four years, with much of the produce given to our local soup kitchen.”

— Cindy Hall, Minister of Outreach and Activities First Baptist Church, Sanford (a Faithful Families community)

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Eat Smart, Move More NC exists through the work of its many partner organizations.
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