Collaborating to Eradicate Childhood Obesity and Close the Literacy Gap in Georgia

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Georgia spends $2.4 billion each year treating obesity-related diseases, and for the first time in U.S. history, children are expected to live shorter lives than their parents due to the consequences of obesity.

Beyond that, Georgia’s children are falling below the basic standard in reading by the end of third grade. More than 70 percent are moving on to fourth grade without learning to read proficiently, which puts them on the dropout track.

Obesity and the literacy gap are threatening Georgians’ health, safety, and ability to prosper. That’s why Georgia Family Connection Partnership (GaFCP) is engaged in two exciting new initiatives—the Childhood Obesity Prevention Initiative and the Early Childhood—Grade-Level-Reading Campaign.

“We’re targeting childhood obesity and reading on grade level by the end of third grade because these are lead indicators,” said Rebekah Hudgins, community cohorts project manager at GaFCP. “Both determine the well-being of children later in life, and are connected to several other indicators.”

GaFCP invited six county Collaboratives to participate in a pilot program to develop, apply, and evaluate strategies using best and promising practices to address these indicators in their counties.

The Childhood Obesity Prevention Initiative, with support from the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, is already underway in Baldwin, Newton, and Talbot counties, while the Early Childhood—Grade-Level-Reading Campaign, funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, is taking place in Charlton, Polk and Seminole counties.

“We invited these Collaboratives to participate because their county childhood obesity or grade-level reading rate trends are worse than the state average,” said Hudgins. “They’re committed to improving these indicators in their counties, and they have the capacity to implement a strategy.”

GaFCP was intentional in bringing together these cohorts. “Each Collaborative’s strategy is unique,” said GaFCP Executive Director Gaye Smith. “We honor the individuality of every county, but also recognize that there are some programs and activities that can be the same across counties that are trying to move the same indicator.”

GaFCP will provide technical assistance focused on developing strategies that include best and promising practices, completing resource mapping, and crafting an evaluation plan.

“Our hope is that we will begin to bring attention to these indicators and where they intersect,” said Hudgins. “And where they together can improve child and family well-being across Georgia.”

Bill Valladares
GaFCP Communications Director
404-527-7394 (x113)

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