Dear CLOCC Partners –
As we enjoy the holiday season and prepare to greet a new year, it is also a perfect time to reflect on our accomplishments and begin planning for the work ahead. While we have a lot to be proud of as a consortium this year, we still have important goals for 2016 to ensure that the City’s future generations are empowered to enjoy equitable access to healthy food, that families have safe places to be active, and that our public policy consistently promotes a culture of health and well-being. These are tall tasks, but one thing we can certainly celebrate is our collective strength as a network of engaged partners. The work we have done together over the last year has put us in a position to make great strides in 2016.
• The Consortium was in high gear from the onset of 2015. In February, we debuted an entirely new CLOCC.net website, featuring a colorful layout with an improved structure that makes this important resource easier to navigate. In tandem with the website launch, we upgraded our electronic membership database and our meeting platform to better serve our partners and to improve the way we communicate with all of you.
• In February and March, the Consortium made its voice heard during Illinois’ legislative session, successfully fighting to preserve the State’s physical education requirements for schools, while simultaneously lobbying for improved access to healthy foods using SNAP and WIC benefits. Additionally, as the Healthy Eating and Active Living Act was introduced, CLOCC worked to educate and inform our partners about the harmful effects of sugar and the benefits of strategies to reduce consumption by increasing the price of sugar-sweetened beverages; the most significant source of excess calories in children’s diets. In September, we introduced our 2016-2020 Policy Agenda which will steer the Consortium’s policy and advocacy work for the next five years.
• In the spring, with summer around the corner, we explored together the impact on children’s health of the reduction in structured activities and opportunities for healthy eating and physical activity that can occur when schools finish the academic year and our partners shared information about opportunities to keep youth engaged in this challenging part of the year. CLOCC provided training to the staff of summer food programs and Play Streets to strengthen their efforts to reduce the negative impact that un-structured summers can have on children’s health.
• This year we continued our efforts to support organizations and communities outside of the city limits. We concluded an 18-month project to support networks in Chicago Heights, Cicero, and Maywood to strengthen their efforts to address nutrition and physical activity and we began managing a healthy corner store initiative in suburban Cook County to advance the county’s Healthy Hot Spot campaign.
• CLOCC staff continued to support hospitals working toward Baby Friendly Designation, ensuring that new mothers have access to environments that support breastfeeding from the moment of delivery. Two hospitals have now undergone site visits – the final stage in certification – and we are hopeful that both will receive designation in 2016. In total, seven hospitals are now in Phase 4, five hospitals are in Phase 3, one hospital is in Phase 2 and one hospital is in Phase 1.
• This year, our health educator held more than 20 5-4-3-2-1 Go! trainings throughout Chicago, attended by more than 350 teachers, nutrition experts and other community leaders, in order to help spread CLOCC’s key healthy-lifestyle messaging. At the year’s final Quarterly Meeting, we also introduced a new 5-4-3-2-1 Go! poster for early childhood that will appeal to younger audiences.
• Finally, the introduction of “Five SMART,” CLOCC’s new healthy lifestyle message for 0-3, as well as an early-childhood curriculum for 5-4-3-2-1 Go!, will provide opportunities for the network to increase our emphasis on health and wellness for the youngest and most vulnerable children.
Progress in our efforts to prevent childhood obesity can only happen with the passionate efforts of educators, public health advocates, researchers, legislative leaders and all of those who serve as role models for the next generation. On behalf of CLOCC, thank you for your commitment to ensure that all children in Chicago and beyond can enjoy a healthy future and reach their full potential. We wish you all a happy and healthy New Year!
Adam B. Becker, PhD, MPH
CLOCC Executive Director