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Arkansas Healthy LIFE

Arkansas Healthy LIFE (Lifestyles Involving Food and Exercise) is an initiative through the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service to address obesity in six Arkansas counties: Chicot, Craighead, Jefferson , Monroe, Ouachita and Woodruff.

This project focuses on making community-wide, lasting impacts with a special emphasis on policy, systems and environmental change.  Learn about our three project strategies. 

Woman Reading a Nutrition Label in the Store

Education and Outreach

For years, the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service has provided education and support to help guide adults, children, and families to live happier, longer, healthier lives.  Research-based programs support and complement community our partners' efforts.

Education and Outreach
Market - ASU Regional Farmer's Market July 2016

Healthy Food Retail

Junk food is at every turn!  How can we make it just as easy to grab tasty, healthy foods?  How can we make produce more available AND help the local economy?  

Get Healthy Foods Near You
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Physical Activity

Carve out an hour of your already overloaded schedule for a workout?  How can you make physical activity a part of your schedule and your community?

Make Your Community More Active
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Coalition Building

In a perfect world, what would a healthy happy community look like for you?  We support local coalitions to make this vision a reality.    

Start a Coalition in Your Community

 

Click Below to see the new Complete Streets promotion from the Arkasnas Department of health. 

Arkansas Healthy LIFE Infographic

 

Walk to School, Start a Movement

Challenge

The most recent data from the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement shows that almost 40% of Arkansas youth are overweight or obese;  Arkansas ranks 6th in the nation for childhood obesity indicating years of future chronic disease if no changes are made.  For 10 months out of the year, Clarendon’s Elementary School serves 273 Arkansas youth. Many students live in town, less than a mile from the school.  However, train tracks cross the main roads to access the school and pedestrian crossing areas are very narrow. Due to these safety concerns, most parents do not let their students walk to school.  The Department of Education reported that 100% of the students in the school qualify for free or reduced meals. With no recreation facilities in town, low- or no-cost ways to keep youth active are critical to the youth in this town.

 Solution

Shortly after a local coalition launched in Summer 2016, youth involvement emerged as a primary concern for community members.  That fall, key municipal leaders met with school leaders and the local coalition and learned how Safe Routes to School (SRTS) could make the school commute safer for students and families.  After learning about educating youth on railroad safety and some SRTS programs, the group decided to host the town’s first Walk/Bike to School Day.  The city and a local community member even donated a boy’s bike and girl’s bike and gave raffle tickets for the bikes to any child that walked or biked to school that day.

Walk to School Day, 2016

Photo: Mayor Jim Stinson talks to Clarendon Elementary students about walking to school and living healthy. 

Results

In early October, 46 adults and students met at a central location instead of heading straight to school.  The excitement was evident as police officers turned on their lights, the local newspaper snapped photos and Clarendon’s first Walk to School Day kicked off with a mayoral proclamation.  Two students even rode home on brand new bikes that day.  The event spurred a movement in the school and community.  The Clarendon Healthy Eating, Active Living (HEAL) coalition worked with the city to calm traffic along roads with paint crosswalks and speed bumps.  Later that year, one coalition member stopped to talk to a railroad repairman at work. That same day, the shoulder was widened for youth to cross the railroad tracks safely.  With these improvements, now all 2500 residents can walk and bike safely through the area.

Sustaining Results

The school plans to host a Walk to School Day annually and increase the frequency of these days in the future.  The Clarendon HEAL coalition meets regularly to continue to plan new projects.  North 7th Street runs North to South through the heart of Clarendon.  At the north end are some senior housing apartments and low-income housing units, and a senior center. The street runs in front of the high school through to the main highway where the group plans to establish a local farmer’s market.  HEAL Clarendon recently started a community garden down the street from the high school, next to the senior center.  As school starts, high school students will be able to safely walk to the garden and connect with local seniors. The group’s focus is North 7th street but ultimately plan to make all of the neighborhood streets pedestrian and bicycle-friendly.

 

Learn More About Arkansas Healthy LIFE