This past summer the Dell Medical School recognized HealthStart with a nomination for its distinguished Health Leadership Award in the Health Ecosystem Hero category. In September the University of Texas Michael and Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living named HealthStart the 2019 Health Living Texas Health Champion!
Each year the Michael and Susan Dell Center, a UTHealth School of Public Health research center, chooses one organization to receive the Texas Health Champion Award as part of their Annual Texas Obesity Awareness Week. For this prestigious award they look for an organization that has worked to educate and collaborate with the community, made efforts to impact obesity, and established programs that sustainably promote healthy living.
After reading through the kind words from those that recommended us there were three things that stood out to me, exemplifying why HealthStart’s work is so important.
Knowledge is Power
“HealthStart programs address this root cause[families unfamiliarity with healthy foods] by giving children the science behind healthy habits when they teach kids how their bodies work, and the food and fitness habits required for a healthy lifestyle. HealthStart builds on this foundation when introducing new, healthy foods in fun ways during their community-based Snack Science Children’s Health Education Workshop Series.”
Through our programs HealthStart works to equip young children with the tools to build a foundation for making healthy choices now and as they grow into adults. Our science-based health education gives kids the “why” of healthy eating and physical movement which strengthens the likelihood kids will make healthier choices.
A Healthy Mindset Around Food
“HealthStart maintains a stance of “food neutrality” and considers no one’s food “bad.” Rather, HealthStart focuses on teaching children and their families about foods that nourish and keep every part of the body strong while finding culturally appropriate ways to introduce children and their parents to new foods and ways of thinking about taking care of their bodies, each other, and the world around them.”
Labeling a food as “good” or “bad” can subconsciously start a disordered relationship with food. It creates feelings of shame, guilt and restriction around eating certain foods, which is the opposite of healthy. When HealthStart teaches a child how a certain food supports their body and minds we foster a positive relationship with food, making it easier to make good food choices.
Reaching the Whole Family
“An important and unique aspect of the HealthStart approach is using children as change agents to influence the behavior of their families as well. Health behaviors develop and occur within a context, and HealthStart aims to go beyond the individual level and influence the family as well.”
“The impact of these healthy meals and snacks may have reach beyond the children to shift behaviors in parents and families. Approximately 80 percent of parents reported purchasing and preparing at least one of the recipes from the Snack Science pilot program.”
It is such an honor to be recognized by our community. We are beyond grateful to our partners as well as those who have supported our organization over the years. We could not do it without you!
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