Creating Healthier Early Childhood Environments Together: A Systems Change Approach
February 27, 2019
On February 27, Early Ages Healthy Stages (EAHS) convened a forum at Embassy Suites in Independence to update stakeholders and new partners about an innovative research project that has transpired over the past nine months. Engaging in a systems approach, a group of EAHS members worked to understand the complexities of early childhood health and wellness in Cuyahoga County. Through that process, members of the group created a “systems map,” that shows the relationships and connections that impact health and wellness in early childhood environments in our community.
With support from Tufts University and The Mt. Sinai Health Care Foundation, this forum included an insightful keynote address, and a discussion panel that shed light on evidence-based practices for strengthening early childhood environments and improving early childhood health and wellness. The session ended with a reflective discussion about the process EAHS undertook to create the systems map.
EAHS gears up for National Screen Free Week 2018 with help from guest blogger, Joan Spoerl, MAT!
April 24, 2018
2018 Screen-Free Week and Children’s Book Week April 30-May 6, 2018
What if we turned off our televisions, computers, smart phones, hand-held electronic devices and video games (except for necessary work) for seven straight days? Perhaps the following: better sleep, increased brain activity, live conversations, walks taken, gardens tended, homes repaired, books read, games played, creativity and exploration, and meaningful connections between families and friends.
Participate in Screen-Free Week, April 30- May 6, and see what happens for you, your family and our community. Since 1995, millions of children and families around the world have been turning off screens and turning on life, pledging to spend seven days without entertainment screen media.
While screens can be helpful in many ways, research shows that there are many costs to excessive screen time. Screen time deprives children of hands-on creative play that is the foundation of learning, creativity and constructive problem-solving. Excessive screen time (more than two hours a day) is associated with sleep disturbances, attention span issues, psychological difficulties, hyperactivity, emotional and conduct problems, poor academic achievement, reduced physical activity, higher levels of aggression, delayed language acquisition and childhood obesity.
Children who spend less time with screens in their early years tend to do better in school, have a healthier diet, are more physically active and are better able to engage in schoolwork in later elementary school.
Although the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen time at all for children under age 2 and less than two hours per day for children 2 and older, many American children spend more time in front of a screen than they do in school. Research now demonstrates that screens are an ineffective means to build young children’s brains. Even background noise from screens can inhibit a baby’s absorption of language, thus hindering language and brain development.
For more information, visit www.screenfree.org.
Other helpful resources to guide families in making informed choices regarding their family’s use of screens include Teachers Resisting Unhealthy Children’s Entertainment at www.truceteachers.org, the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood at www.
This is an opportunity to explore your own ideas and creations, cherish the company of your loved ones, and appreciate the wonders this world offers in your very own reality show.
Happy Holidays from Early Ages Healthy Stages!
December 27, 2017
I don’t know about you, but I always enjoy these days leading up to the New Year as a time to reflect on the previous year, and to look ahead to the future. What a year 2017 has been for Early Ages Healthy Stages! As Alison discussed at our December meeting, our successes in both EAHS an Ohio Healthy Programs continue to exceed our expectations. Our coalition is represented by over 85 organizations and growing! We have diversified our funding stream from one to six funders, an effort that will ensure sustainability for years to come. Cuyahoga County is home to over 44 designated Ohio Healthy Programs- far more than any other county- something that we could not achieve without the support of EAHS members. We have been able to reach over 2,900 children this year with healthier menus and policies… not even accounting for the numerous children you all reach through your own networks. I am continually in awe of your passion and enthusiasm to move this work forward without ego or agenda, simply because it’s what’s best for our kids.
With all of this success, there is still much to do. I am looking forward to breathing life into our Strategic Plan in 2018; to working with you all to connect with families to better understand their health and wellness needs. I am excited to build a Health Champions program that celebrates and elevates our early care and education providers, and to continue to build this network of inspiring individuals. The work starts at our January meeting and registration is now open using the link here: http://www.signupgenius.com/go/30e054ba9a62ca6f85-january1
Yes there is much to do, but not quite right now. Right now it’s time to pause and say, “Thank you.” Thank you for the being people that you are, for doing the work that you do, and for letting me be a part of it.
Life is a team event.
Early Ages Healthy Stages Welcomes Theresa Henderson to our Ohio Healthy Programs Team!
October 26, 2017
At our October meeting, we welcomed new staff person, Theresa Henderson, to our team. Many of you might remember working with Theresa while she was at OCCRRA as a health promotion consultant. Theresa will be taking the lead on our Ohio Healthy Programs training and technical assistance, helping us connect with community partners and ensuring that we are able to continue to expand OHP outreach in Cuyahoga County. We are thrilled to have such an experienced and enthusiastic new teammate in early childhood on board. Learn more about Theresa below:
“I am happy to be working with CCBH and Ohio Healthy Programs. I live in a rural area in the country with my husband, 5 Golden Retrievers, 2 cats and 2 parakeets! My past experience includes working with OCCRRA as Health Promotion Consultant. I was fortunate to work with OHP as well as many other training areas relevant to Early Child Education. I covered many counties during this time including Cuyahoga county. I look forward to renewing those relationships again. I was with Elyria city health for 8 years where I coordinated a children’s dental program and several other health education programs. I began my career many years prior to that as a dental hygienist graduating from Lorain County Community College. I earned a BS at Youngstown State in Allied Health and a MPH from Kent State University. Throughout my career working with children in public health prevention and wellness has been a priority. I look forward to meeting you and helping your program become an Ohio Healthy Program.”
Early Ages Healthy Stages Welcomes Case Western Reserve Master of Public Health Student Interns!
September 20, 2017
Early Ages Healthy Stages is excited to welcome Case Western Reserve Master of Public Health Student, Amber Jones, who will be completing a student Capstone with us this year! Amber will be working with the EAHS team to facilitate and analyze community focus groups; using the information to help develop our Health Champions program. Learn more about Amberbelow:
Hello, my name is Amber and I’m a graduate student at Case Western Reserve University working on completing my Masters in Public Health. I have lived and worked in the Cleveland area for almost 5 years now, and I love the growth and opportunities that have occurred since I moved here! I am so excited to work with the Early Ages Healthy Stages team and coalition as part of my capstone in the MPH program. My primary goal will be to create a Health Champions program in order to provide necessary resources to early care and education providers in the area. This will be a wonderful opportunity to make connections between community organizations, providers, agencies, businesses, and families!
Amber will present her Capstone Proposal at the November EAHS meeting, but will be reaching out to many of you soon. Make sure to say hello!
Fun fact: Amber got married last October and recently returned from a honeymoon in Germany and Eastern Europe!
Early Ages Healthy Stages Welcomes Case Western Reserve Master of Public Health Student Interns!
September 14, 2017
Early Ages Healthy Stages is excited to welcome Case Western Reserve Master of Public Health Student, Priya Nalluri, who will be completing her student Practicum with us this Fall! Learn more about Priya below:
Hello! I am Priya and I am one of the latest additions to the Early Ages Healthy Stages team. I am a current graduate student in the Masters of Public Health program at Case Western Reserve University. I am a Cleveland transplant, originally a native of Columbus, Ohio (go bucks!) growing up there and graduating from The Ohio State University in 2015. My passion for public health and health promotion brought me to Cleveland to further pursue my education and learning about the Cleveland community has been a new and exciting journey for me.
Along with the other EAHS intern, I will be assisting in managing the various EAHS social media accounts as well as working to develop new outcome metrics to better to better measure our success as a program.
We will hear from Priya at our October EAHS meeting. Make sure to say hello!
Fun fact: Priya is an Ohio State grad and fan and is working to pursue her dream of going to dental school!
Early Ages Healthy Stages is gearing up to celebrate National Screen Free Week, May 1-7, 2017!
April 27, 2017
Celebrating National Screen Free Week: May 1-7, 2017
by Joan Spoerl
What if we turned off our televisions, computers, smart phones, hand-held devices and video games (except for necessary work) for seven straight days? Perhaps the following: better sleep, increased brain activity, live conversations, walks taken, gardens tended, homes repaired, books read, games played, creativity and exploration, and meaningful connections between families and friends.
Participate in Screen-Free Week, May 1-7, and see what happens! This year, Early Ages Healthy Stages will begin taking part in this national tradition that started in 1995. Join the millions of children and families around the world that will turn off screens and turn on life, by pledging to spend seven days without screens.
While screens can be helpful in many ways, research shows that there are many costs to too much screen time. Excessive screen time (more than two hours a day) is associated with sleep disturbances, attention span issues, psychological difficulties, hyperactivity, conduct problems, poor academic achievement, reduced physical activity, higher levels of aggression, delayed language acquisition, and childhood obesity.
Although the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen time at all for children under age 2 and less than two hours per day for children 2 and older, many American children spend more time in front of a screen than they do in school. Children who spend less time with screens in their early years tend to do better in school, have a healthier diet, are more physically active and are better able to engage in schoolwork in later elementary school.
Here are just a few examples of things that your family can do instead of screens:
- Take a walk or ride bikes together. Talk about the things that you see along the way!
- Read a book (or two, or three!) together. Discuss the book’s characters and themes!
- Prepare dinner and share a healthy family meal together. Ask your family about their day!
- Write a short play and act it out for each other. Take time to get creative!
- Talk about your dreams. Share your goals and make plans for the future!
- Grow something in the garden. Learn about how things grow!
Visit, www.screenfree.org to take the pledge to go screen free! Check out our Online Resources page to start planning for your week without screens.
Let’s take this opportunity to explore your own ideas and creations, cherish the company of our loved ones, and appreciate the wonders that the real world has to offer. Happy un-plugging!
Early Ages Healthy Stages Coalition Receives Three Year Funding from Mt. Sinai Health Care Foundation
March 10, 2017
At our March 10th meeting, Early Ages Healthy Stages proudly announced that our grant proposal for Mt. Sinai Health Care Foundation was approved and funded. The grant will double our current funding and provide the resources needed to keep our efforts going until March of 2020! Alison Patrick, Program Manager at the Cuyahoga County Board of Health, shared the news with coalition members. The new funding cycle will support the hiring of a new Grant Coordinator and will specifically focus on four initiatives:
- Expansion of Ohio Healthy Programs through partnerships with other agencies and organizations that support early care and education providers. Over the next three years, we will provide training, technical assistance, and incentives to 65 new early care and education programs. We will also continue to support our current Ohio Healthy Programs with incentives and renewal application.
- Personnel and financial support to implement 2-3 chosen strategies from the Early Ages Healthy Stages Strategic Plan. Our coalition has been working hard to complete a community-driven, collaborative, strategic plan. We have identified strategies to improve healthy eating, active play, social emotional growth, health care access, and family engagement for young children. This new grant funding will also allow current EAHS staff to dedicate more time to bringing these strategies to life.
- Development and pilot of the “Health Champions” program- a new idea that will support early care and education providers to become the go-to health resource person in their community. EAHS is comprised of so many talented, passionate, and selfless providers that consistently go above and beyond to provide health opportunities for the children, families, and communities that they serve. This program will allow them to sharpen their skills and be recognized for the work that they do. Health Champions will include training, technical assistance, and a stipend for providers that participate. This pilot will fund 6 ECE providers to become official Health Champions in their respective communities and support them in bringing their passion for health to a wider audience.
- Presentations at state and national conferences to highlight the innovative work that we are doing. We are proud of the work that we accomplish together and want other people to know it! Over the next three years we will work to evaluate our initiatives and share our successes. We hope that by engaging a state and national audience, we will be expand and improve our work, while supporting others efforts to make an impact in their community.
With our new grant cycle starting on March 1, 2017, we are excited to get to work making our dreams a reality. Thank you to our coalition members and the generous support of Mt. Sinai Health Care Foundation for your continued dedication to the health and wellbeing of Cuyahoga County’s young children.
Updates from our March Coalition Meeting
March 16, 2017
Early care and education administrators Cheryl Johnson (Education With Imagination Child Development Center) and Arlene Porter (Buckeye Head Start CEOGC) receive banners from Alison Patrick (Cuyahoga County Board of Health) for their effort in becoming Designated Ohio Healthy Programs.
Members of the Early Ages Healthy Stages Coalition at our March meeting at Cuyahoga County Board of Health on March 10, 2017
EAHS coalition members Katie Utrata (Help Me Grow), Ava Lucky (Early Childhood Options) and Arlene Porter (Buckeye Head Start CEOGC) work together to create strategies to improve opportunities for active play for young children. In the background, Victoria Davis (Moms First) and Akanni Thomas (Starting Point) develop strategies to support family engagement around early childhood health and wellness.
Abbie Klein (Starting Point), Shari Nacson (Caring Cubs), and Jill Lemmerman (City of Cleveland Recreation Department) discuss ways that Early Ages Healthy Stages can work together to promote social emotional development for young children in Cuyahoga County.