July 11, 2008

Nashville Collaborative seeks to improve children’s health

Featured Image

Wendy Lopez jumps rope in front an interactive health station at the launch of the Coleman Regional Community Center, the flagship site of the Nashville Collaborative. (photo by Laurie Phillips)

Nashville Collaborative seeks to improve children’s health

The Nashville Collaborative, a partnership between the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt and Metro Nashville Parks and Recreation to improve child health, launched June 28 with a celebration at the Coleman Regional Community Center in south Nashville.

The collaborative focuses on strengthening families and neighborhoods, particularly in underserved areas, by targeting childhood obesity prevention and treatment through education, service, and program evaluation initiatives.

Recently, the collaborative received a Tennessee Project Diabetes grant to work on obesity prevention with Latino families who have young children. This will focus on encouraging healthy habits, positive parenting and goal setting.

These families will each receive a free one-year membership to the community center, which features a gym, fitness center, indoor swimming pool and other resources.

Shari Barkin, M.D., director of the Division of General Pediatrics at Vanderbilt, is the collaborative's executive director. The executive committee includes community members from the Metro Board of Parks and Recreation, Alignment Nashville, Vanderbilt's Department of Pediatrics and the University's Center for Health Services, among others.

“Together these kinds of family-centered, community-based networks can work to solve common public health issues, such as pediatric obesity,” Barkin said.

“We are delighted to have the opportunity to partner with Metro Parks and Recreation to make a real difference in the health of children who live in this community.”

At its launch, many of the center's services that will be available to the community were spotlighted.

Students from Vanderbilt School of Medicine and Meharry School of Medicine were on hand to provide blood pressure screening and information about local clinics. The students plan to be on site once a month to perform health screening and education related to childhood obesity in the family.

“This will be a great opportunity to practice medicine in a community setting instead of a clinical setting,” said Brad Hill, one of the medical student leaders.

“It's so important to gain trust and show a presence and support the community. The overall goal is prevention and early intervention.”

Healthy cooking demonstrations were given during the launch and twice-monthly teaching kitchens at the center will provide hands-on skills for eating healthy as a family. The event featured a performance by Root Soup, as well as interactive games and activities, sponsored by Children's Hospital.