Our community partners have shared some great tips, advice and words of encouragement regarding childhood obesity and how to make a change. It isn’t about recreating the wheel. It’s about instilling simple behavior change and making the effort, as a family, to eat better, be more active and make healthy decisions.

Healthy Eating

“If you don’t garden, bring your children to the grocery store and have them try one new fruit or vegetable a week. Exposure at a young age and you being a good role model are so important.” – Cindy Brison, UNL Extension, Eating Smart from the Start

“Seek out fresh food, farmers, markets, CSA’s, even your local grocer. Don’t be afraid to try new foods!” – Jodi Fritz, Tomato Tomato

“Rooted in 3 simple principles – eat a rainbow of colors, eat leafy greens first, and eat as close to nature as possible – the Whole Kids Foundation offers a variety of resources for parents and children to make healthier choices at home ranging from book club suggestions and “Better Bites” lessons to hands-on art projects and a free app, Awesome Eats.” – Cassandra Zywiec, Whole Foods Market Omaha, Whole Kids Foundation Fundraising Campaign

“We encourage our families to take advantage of parks around their communities if available and safe. We give examples of home games after dinner, instead of television time (sit-up challenge, wall squats, taking a walk around the block and more). We promote healthy eating and cooking through our farm to table classes for parents and girls.” – Emily Mwaja, Girls, Inc., Farm to Table

“Get kids involved in healthy meal preparation! Kids that help grow their own food and/or cook their own meals are much more likely to eat their fruits and veggies and other healthy foods! Plus, it’s a great time to bond with your kids.” – Anna Curry, VNA, Cooking Matters at the Store

“Make meals fun, talk about the foods being eaten, and involve children in all steps of foods and meals. This seems like a simple thing to do, but few adults do this.” – Daniel Schober, Gretchen Swanson Center for Nutrition, Teach Kids Nutrition

“Grow! Don’t be intimidated by growing something on your own. Sure there is plenty to know and lots of room for error, but everyone is capable of growing their own health food. I promise your plants will do their darnedest for your while you figure it out.” – Matt Freeman, United Methodist Ministries, The Big Garden

“Have a colorful plate for every meal!” – Shauntel Vaughn, Heartland Family Service, Ruth K. Solomon Girls Center


Active Living

“Use some of the excellent places that we already have for being physically active and advocate for more and better facilities.” – David E. Corbin, Community Coalition, Biking on the Keystone Trail

“Families and friends working together is the key. Normally, but not always the mother is the nucleus, and the family follows her steps to keep the family healthier. There are children that are taught in the school about healthy eating and exercise and bring the information homes to their families. Teams, and partners, are best in encouraging each other. If one person wants to stop, the friend will and should encourage the other to continue to be healthier.” – Reina Walls, Healing Tender Hearts, Zumba Fitness Takeover and Eat Healthy Stay Fit 

“Stay active. Physical activity is essential for lifelong health and well-being. Parents should be an example and stay physically active as well.” – Pam Singleton-Nelson, Charles Drew Center, Earn-a-Bike Project

“Don’t be afraid to try new things! Sometimes people feel intimidated by yoga but once they try it, they love it!” – Kwin Kunkle, Yoga Rocks the Park, Camp Yoga Rocks

“Ride together! Take a bike trip to movies, dinner, or store instead of driving.” – Madison Haugland, Live Well Omaha, Bike Safety Education

“Make fitness and being active for at least 30 minutes a day a priority. Just as we teach our toddlers and pre-school kids to recognize letters for reading, number for math and washing our hands to keep germs away, we need to teach them to be excited to exercise for a foundation of lifelong health!” – Erin McElroy, Stretch-n-Grow of Greater Omaha


At School

“Throughout the planning and development of this initiative, it has been evident youth are motivated by their fellow peers in a setting in which they are familiar, such as their schools. Our challenge to our community partner is to adapt programming to meet the needs of youth where they are for the majority of their days. As research shows this method provides youth the opportunity to become empowered to take ownership of the initiative and truly embody the work at hard.” – Jack Anderson, Building Healthy Futures, Omaha Northwest High School Healthy Huskies Club

“Children cannot learn when they are hungry. Encourage your child to eat breakfast every day – whether it is at home or at school.” – Tammy Yamon, Omaha Public Schools, Grab and Go Breakfast Program

“There are plenty of ways, you can use GoNoodle at home. If you’re stuck inside on a rainy or cold day, you can do Zumba, stetch with Maximo or run in a track event.” – Sara Norgelas, Children’s Hospital & Medical Center, GoNoodle

“Move! Dance! Work! Go to the park! Have relay races! Enjoy the outdoors and play more!” – Kim Bassler, Midwest Child Care Association, NAP SACC Workshop

“Involve your children! As adults we think we have the answers, but sometimes we forget that we have these amazing children with truly great ideas that are so much more relevant and fun than anything we can come up with. Engage them in menu planning and taste testing at home or at school, let them help in the kitchen, give them a role at the grocery store, and most of all include them in your school’s wellness committees, they relate to other kids and know what may or may not work to impact healthy kids! Become a parent resource to schools! We ask so much of our teachers and educators, yet we all want our kids to have a safe and healthy environment to learn and grow. Offer your time and expertise in whatever it might be to your school – this might mean volunteering at an event, spreading the word about tips for healthy eating, or serving on the school wellness council. We are in this together…let’s work together.” – Beth Bruck-Upton, Midwest Dairy Council, Fuel Up to Play 60

“Eat breakfast!!!!” – Eric Nelson, Omaha Public Schools, Fontenelle Elementary

“Utilize the Douglas County Health Department website (” – Stephen Jackson, Douglas County Health Department, High School Citizens Youth Advisory Health Council


At Home

“There are so many amazing organizations in Omaha that offer wonderful information on leading a healthy life for families, especially kids. My one tip would be to get involved in one close to you today! Include the entire family in participating and make changes slowly and steadily. Working together, supporting each other can not only improve your health but builds better relationships between family members.” – Sandy Andersen, Health & Fitness Manager, Salvation Army Kroc Center, Healthy Home Project

“Staying connected is important to introduce variety and new information to your healthy goals. The instructors, families, and resources as part of Healthy Families can extend beyond the 8 weeks of the program to help families continue getting support by taking free, hands on cooking and exercise classes, all local in the community in which they live.” – Kay Grant, Live Well Omaha Kids, Healthy Families