Access to mental health care may be just a virtual visit away

(BPT) – Mental health disorders impact thousands of people every day, including many of our friends, neighbors and co-workers. Everyone reading this likely knows someone struggling with mental illness and is aware of the toll it can take on individuals, families and communities. Mental health challenges do not discriminate — they affect people from all walks of life regardless of age, gender, ethnicity and socioeconomic level.

While stress, anxiety, depression and other mental health disorders impact an estimated 43 million adults nationwide each year, the World Health Organization reports that only about one in four people with a diagnosed disorder is likely to pursue treatment.

Unfortunately, barriers prevent people from getting the mental health care they may need. The reasons are many. Consider these statistics: 4,000 areas in the U.S. have only one psychiatrist for 30,000 or more people; the average waiting time for a first psychiatric visit is 25 days; and stigma is the fourth highest-ranked barrier to help-seeking.

The good news is that people who access care more quickly may be more likely to engage in their treatment and have a better outcome. With the right treatment and support, people can recover from mental health disorders to live healthy, self-directed lives as valuable members of their community. Sometimes all it takes is a gentle nudge from a friend or loved one to help someone take that first step on their path to recovery.

For some people, that best first step may be a virtual visit with a mental health provider via a mobile device or computer. For many, access to virtual care may already be available as part of their health care benefits.

Virtual care can shorten wait times for an appointment, fit work and personal schedules, and eliminate travel time and expense. An appointment conducted in the safe, comfortable environment of home may reduce stigma. And, research shows that outcomes of a virtual visit with a mental health provider are similar to in-person sessions for multiple disorders.

Raising awareness and reducing stigma around mental health issues are keys to supporting well-being within our communities. Today, people can access effective, proven treatment in a variety of formats, including using video-calling technology. It’s up to all of us to reach out and encourage our friends, neighbors and family members in need to access these available resources.

For more information and links to recovery support resources in your area, visit www.optum.com/recovery. To learn more about available health care benefits, call the number on the back of your health plan identification card.

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Access to mental health care may be just a virtual visit away

(BPT) – Mental health disorders impact thousands of people every day, including many of our friends, neighbors and co-workers. Everyone reading this likely knows someone struggling with mental illness and is aware of the toll it can take on individuals, families and communities. Mental health challenges do not discriminate — they affect people from all walks of life regardless of age, gender, ethnicity and socioeconomic level.

While stress, anxiety, depression and other mental health disorders impact an estimated 43 million adults nationwide each year, the World Health Organization reports that only about one in four people with a diagnosed disorder is likely to pursue treatment.

Unfortunately, barriers prevent people from getting the mental health care they may need. The reasons are many. Consider these statistics: 4,000 areas in the U.S. have only one psychiatrist for 30,000 or more people; the average waiting time for a first psychiatric visit is 25 days; and stigma is the fourth highest-ranked barrier to help-seeking.

The good news is that people who access care more quickly may be more likely to engage in their treatment and have a better outcome. With the right treatment and support, people can recover from mental health disorders to live healthy, self-directed lives as valuable members of their community. Sometimes all it takes is a gentle nudge from a friend or loved one to help someone take that first step on their path to recovery.

For some people, that best first step may be a virtual visit with a mental health provider via a mobile device or computer. For many, access to virtual care may already be available as part of their health care benefits.

Virtual care can shorten wait times for an appointment, fit work and personal schedules, and eliminate travel time and expense. An appointment conducted in the safe, comfortable environment of home may reduce stigma. And, research shows that outcomes of a virtual visit with a mental health provider are similar to in-person sessions for multiple disorders.

Raising awareness and reducing stigma around mental health issues are keys to supporting well-being within our communities. Today, people can access effective, proven treatment in a variety of formats, including using video-calling technology. It’s up to all of us to reach out and encourage our friends, neighbors and family members in need to access these available resources.

For more information and links to recovery support resources in your area, visit www.optum.com/recovery. To learn more about available health care benefits, call the number on the back of your health plan identification card.

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Access to mental health care may be just a virtual visit away

(BPT) – Mental health disorders impact thousands of people every day, including many of our friends, neighbors and co-workers. Everyone reading this likely knows someone struggling with mental illness and is aware of the toll it can take on individuals, families and communities. Mental health challenges do not discriminate — they affect people from all walks of life regardless of age, gender, ethnicity and socioeconomic level.

While stress, anxiety, depression and other mental health disorders impact an estimated 43 million adults nationwide each year, the World Health Organization reports that only about one in four people with a diagnosed disorder is likely to pursue treatment.

Unfortunately, barriers prevent people from getting the mental health care they may need. The reasons are many. Consider these statistics: 4,000 areas in the U.S. have only one psychiatrist for 30,000 or more people; the average waiting time for a first psychiatric visit is 25 days; and stigma is the fourth highest-ranked barrier to help-seeking.

The good news is that people who access care more quickly may be more likely to engage in their treatment and have a better outcome. With the right treatment and support, people can recover from mental health disorders to live healthy, self-directed lives as valuable members of their community. Sometimes all it takes is a gentle nudge from a friend or loved one to help someone take that first step on their path to recovery.

For some people, that best first step may be a virtual visit with a mental health provider via a mobile device or computer. For many, access to virtual care may already be available as part of their health care benefits.

Virtual care can shorten wait times for an appointment, fit work and personal schedules, and eliminate travel time and expense. An appointment conducted in the safe, comfortable environment of home may reduce stigma. And, research shows that outcomes of a virtual visit with a mental health provider are similar to in-person sessions for multiple disorders.

Raising awareness and reducing stigma around mental health issues are keys to supporting well-being within our communities. Today, people can access effective, proven treatment in a variety of formats, including using video-calling technology. It’s up to all of us to reach out and encourage our friends, neighbors and family members in need to access these available resources.

For more information and links to recovery support resources in your area, visit www.optum.com/recovery. To learn more about available health care benefits, call the number on the back of your health plan identification card.

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The eyes have it: 4 things your eyes may communicate without you knowing it

(BPT) – Your eyes: you stare with them, wink with them and roll them. You use your eyes to communicate your thoughts and feelings every single day. Whether you’re aware of it or not, your eyes can speak volumes about who you are and what you feel. But could your eyes be sending the wrong message?

New findings from Allergan’s “A Look at Eye Language” online survey of 1,019 adult Americans reveal that approximately half of respondents (53 percent) say the first facial feature they notice about another person is their eyes. Patti Wood, a body language expert with over 25 years of experience in the field of human behavior, says our eyes can convey all sorts of messages — both intentionally and unintentionally. “Eye language is the messages we send to others with our eyes,” Wood says. “These eye behaviors include rubbing the eyes, extended eye contact, averted gaze or eye shifts. Our eye language can say a lot about us, revealing our emotions, confidence level and, at times, even if we’re telling the truth.”

Curious what your eyes are telling other people? Wood provides four eye language examples.

* Eye contact: Too much of a good thing. You’re taught early on to look at someone when they’re talking to you; it’s a sign of respect and shows you’re listening. In fact, the survey, conducted in conjunction with Kelton Global, revealed that for those who see the value in maintaining eye contact, holding a direct gaze makes them feel respected (53 percent) and understood (45 percent). However, Wood says if your gaze becomes a continuous, unrelenting stare throughout an entire conversation, it may signal to the other person that you’re trying to assert your dominance. This can be problematic in many situations, particularly in the workplace, so make sure you’re being attentive but not overly aggressive with your eye contact.

* Certain conditions can alter your eye contact. Sometimes, you send messages with your eyes without realizing it. For example, Chronic Dry Eye disease symptoms, like red, itching, burning or watering eyes, can send the wrong message — one you don’t intend. It’s important to understand the messages your eye language might be sending to others. Talk to your doctor or visit Eyepowerment.com to learn more about the symptoms and treatment options for Chronic Dry Eye.

* Liars look away? Not always. You’ve heard the old saying that a person who looks away is lying. But in many cases, that isn’t true. Research shows the eye contact you make while lying is partially determined by your personality. Wood says that introverts tend to have more trouble maintaining eye contact while lying, whereas extroverts may go over the top and increase eye contact while lying more so than they would otherwise. Additionally, Wood shares that an action like rubbing your eyes can convey a lack of interest, fatigue, disagreement or disbelief in the speaker — or even deceit.

* The amount of eye contact you display can show how you feel about things. Research shows that eye contact can demonstrate attraction or attentiveness. You actually make more eye contact with people and things you like and less eye contact with people or things you don’t like. Wood notes that our eye language makes us look at things that are new or interesting, especially faces, or look away from things that we find distasteful. So if you’re curious about how a certain person feels about you, pay attention to how much they look at you.

When it comes to nonverbal communication, your eyes are one of the most expressive parts of your body, even if don’t realize it. In fact, Wood says that research shows we can read not only the six basic emotions — sadness, disgust, anger, joy, fear and surprise — but also over 50 different mental states such as curiosity, interest, dislike or boredom, in another person’s eyes.

That’s why it’s important to pay attention to your eye language. Certain conditions, such as Chronic Dry Eye disease, have symptoms that may be sending the wrong message — one you don’t intend. To learn more about Chronic Dry Eye symptoms and treatment options, talk to your doctor and visit Eyepowerment.com.

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The eyes have it: 5 things you can do to reduce your child’s exposure to harmful blue light

(BPT) – A generation ago, limiting a child’s screen time meant putting restrictions on how much television they could watch in a single day. “No more than two hours a day and don’t sit too close to the screen.” Those were the rules, and while enforcing them was a challenge, it was easy to remember.

Times have changed.

These days, the challenge parents face regarding their children’s screen time has grown exponentially and protecting their eyes from too much blue light exposure is more important than ever.

Last fall, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) hosted a national conference involving more than 10,000 pediatricians. The focal point of discussion was children and screen time. Concerned about the effects of screen time — and blue light — on young children’s eyes, the AAP officially recommends:

* no screen time for children 18 months and under.

* one hour per day for children ages 2-5.

* limited screen time for children ages 6 and above.

Prolonged exposure to blue light (the blueish glow emitted from digital device screens), has been shown to cause headaches, dry eyes and even hamper sleep, so it’s no surprise the AAP would recommend limits for children. Monitoring your child’s overall screen time can be easier said than done, so don’t try to go it alone. For parents, however, there are things you can do besides simply monitoring your child’s time in front of their favorite device:

* Plan for breaks. Consider recording shows and then allowing your children to watch them with the expectation that their session will end at the show’s completion rather than continue on into the next program. If computer/smartphone use is the problem, consider using parental controls within the device settings to limit usage. If that’s not an option, you can install apps that set off an alarm at pre-timed intervals to inform your little one it’s time to do something else.

* Discuss your child’s screen time with your eye doctor. Just as you would consult the pediatrician for a question regarding your child’s general health, your optometrist is there to answer any questions you have about your child’s eyes. If a trip to the optometrist isn’t covered under your current insurance plan, VSP Individual Vision Plans, a national family and individual vision insurance provider, can help. VSPDirect.com offers affordable access to high-quality eye care and eye wear, and people who use individual or family vision plans typically save hundreds of dollars on their eye exams and glasses.

* Be aware of when they use devices. In some cases the amount of screen time a child has isn’t as important as when they have it. Research shows that blue light exposure shortly before bed delays REM sleep, leading to poorer sleeping habits. Eliminate screen time a couple of hours before your child goes to bed and they’ll wake up more rested.

* Adjust device settings. Some easy settings you can adjust to make your child’s screen more readable are increasing the font size, reducing the screen brightness or increasing the contrast of the screen. And the easier it is for children to use the device, the less they’ll feel they have to get their nose right against the screen.

* Be the alternative. The easiest way to protect your children from the risks of digital eye strain is to give them something to do that takes them away from the device altogether. Engage them in a board game, a trip to the park or a visit to the mall. Just make sure you do it together and device free — for both of you — and you’ll have a great time in a way that’s healthy for the entire body.

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The NFL concussion settlement gives former NFL players a chance for a better life

(BPT) – After years of waiting, the NFL concussion settlement affecting thousands of retired NFL players is now open for registration, which means former players, their family and their representatives can begin to take advantage of the benefits the settlement provides. To be eligible, all retired players and their representatives must register by Aug. 7, 2017 by visiting www.nflconcussionsettlement.com.

The NFL concussion settlement provides benefits to thousands of retired NFL players who joined the league because of their unrelenting “love of the game.” However, after a career playing in the NFL, many of these retired players left the game with lifelong devastating brain damage due to the many concussions, “dings” and other hard hits they sustained while playing on the field.

Today, these retired NFL players suffer daily from neuro-cognitive illnesses that often leave them bedridden and unable to recall some of their most sacred memories. At the same time, their loved ones are forced to watch them suffer from these debilitating brain injuries while simultaneously grappling with significant medical bills. Unfortunately, even though these retired players dedicated their blood, sweat, and tears to the game, most do not have the financial support or assistance they need to deal with these conditions.

Though it is too late to reverse what happened to these retired players, the NFL concussion settlement provides a lifeline to those who suffer from neuro-cognitive illnesses today. It provides immediate compensation for those who are struggling or those who had struggled with conditions like dementia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s or ALS without having to prove their diagnosis was a result of NFL football. Family members or representatives of deceased retired players who suffered with such conditions may also be eligible to submit a claim.

The settlement will also help and give peace of mind to those who are currently healthy but fear they may develop symptoms decades into the future. For instance, eligible retired players will be provided with a free “baseline assessment,” which is a battery of tests to see how they are doing so they can keep tabs on their neurocognitive health and better understand if symptoms start to emerge. They will be eligible for compensation if they develop a qualifying condition within the next 65 years.

Those who may remain skeptical after enduring other benefits programs can find comfort in the fact that the settlement is not run by the NFL. Instead, the settlement’s benefit programs will be run by independent administrators and qualified doctors, working under the court’s supervision. The NFL will not decide who is eligible for benefits under this agreement.

If you are a retired NFL player or a relative of one, remember that registering for the settlement is a required first step to receive any benefits at all. Registration is a requirement to submit a claim for a potential monetary award or receive a baseline assessment. Failing to register before the Aug. 7, 2017 deadline will make you ineligible to receive any settlement benefits. Again, to register for the settlement with step-by-step instructions, or to learn more about its benefits, please visit www.nflconcussionsettlement.com.

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3 cornerstones to a longer, healthier, happier life for your pet

(BPT) – Your pets are members of the family. They are the source of some of your best memories, they are your travel companions, your confidantes and your evening snuggle partners. You love them and you want them to live the longest, healthiest and happiest life possible.

Like it is for you, achieving the healthiest, happiest life for your pet is directly tied to the cornerstones of preventive care, nutrition and exercise. To provide insight into how each of these can benefit your pet, Dr. Kurt Venator, chief veterinary officer for Purina, offers this advice:

Regular veterinary exams

Your veterinarian and his/her team are the experts when it comes to the health and well-being of your pet. Prevention is a key component of regular vet visits; the earlier a potential problem is identified, the easier it is to treat and the greater the chance of success. The physical examination, routine diagnostics, vaccinations, heartworm prevention and parasite control will help keep your pet in tip-top shape. You can also work with your veterinarian to create a tailored health plan for your pet that takes into account their age, activity level and any medical considerations.

Nutrition

In a recent Purina survey, three in five dog and cat owners (60 percent) would consult their veterinarian for food safety and quality advice, while just about half refer to their pet food companies’ websites. Furthermore, when it comes to nutrition, it is important to work with your veterinarian to select the ideal diet for your pet that is appropriate for their life stage (i.e., puppy vs. adult) and lifestyle (couch potato vs. sporting dog). It is also important to look beyond just the ingredient list and marketing claims on the bag.

The nutrients inside should also meet or exceed AAFCO, USDA and FDA standards. Many pet owners are unaware of the rigorous process that goes into ensuring quality and safety in pet food, with three in five pet owners admitting they didn’t know about the process after learning more about what goes into the pet food quality-checking process. For pet owners, it’s also important to take the time to look at the company’s manufacturing reputation, along with safety and quality standards. Ask these key questions when evaluating different pet foods:

* Who formulates the food and what are their credentials? Look for brands with nutritionists and veterinarians on staff to formulate the diets. Purina has over 500 pet experts globally, including nutritionists, veterinarians, behaviorists and immunologists who use their expertise to improve pet nutrition and care.

* What are the company’s quality and safety standards? Purina conducts more than 30,000 quality checks involving ingredients, packaging, receiving, processing and packing in a typical 24-hour production period.

* Where is the food produced? Does the company own their manufacturing facilities? At Purina, 99 percent of our food sold in the U.S. is made in our own facilities.

Exercise and enrichment

An appropriate amount of daily exercise can help reduce the incidence of common behavioral problems in pets. This includes excessive barking, inappropriate chewing and general hyperactivity. In addition, exercise — combined with appropriate diet quality and quantity — can reduce the incidence of obesity and associated health conditions, such as osteoarthritis in dogs and diabetes in cats.

Physical exercise can take on a variety of forms, from leash walks to ball fetch to playtime at the local dog park. For those dogs with a predilection for the water, swimming can offer a fun and effective alternative. And don’t forget that mental exercise is just as important as physical exercise. Obedience training, food puzzle toys, chew toys and trick training — such as roll over or paw — are all beneficial for pets.

Before starting any exercise regimen with your pet, be sure to consult with your veterinarian to find answers to your questions and learn what activities would best support your pet based on their breed, age and needs.

Taking steps to improve your pet’s health today

Your pet gives you so much and you naturally want to return the favor. You can do so by following the three simple suggestions above. Do so and you and your pet will be able to live a longer, healthier, and happier life together.

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5 nutritionist tips to start eating and living healthier

(BPT) – When you need to fix your car, learn the latest tech or finish a major home improvement, what do you do? You turn to the experts, those with in-depth knowledge on how to accomplish these tasks in the most efficient and effective way. And when you’re looking to improve your overall health by focusing on improving your diet, it’s also time to turn to the experts.

Nutritionists and registered dietitians are the thought leaders when it comes to improving your eating habits. So to learn from the professionals, we asked Registered Dietitian and nutritionist Dawn Jackson Blatner to offer her tips on how you can improve your nutrition and start living a healthier life today. She offers this advice:

*Get organized. Your environment can work for you or against you. Having an organized refrigerator can be the key to success on the journey to weight loss. Keep produce where it is easily visible and accessible. Storing foods like hard-boiled eggs, chicken breast and roasted vegetables at eye-level can really help to make smarter meal choices. Clear food containers will also help to keep already prepared meals top of mind and lessen food waste, which means saving money in the long run.

*Practice superfood swaps. Don’t cut out food cravings — embrace them! Eat the flavors that you crave but swap out overly processed stuff for fresh, wholesome ingredients. Avoid products with chemicals, refined sugars and flours, artificial flavors and preservatives and it will naturally lead to a healthier lifestyle. When you fill the house with healthier foods, you’ll automatically eat smarter when hunger strikes.

*Eat your “green base.” It can be difficult to make the right nutrition choices all the time. So when you are eating more decadent food like fried chicken, Chinese or pizza, put it on a base of leafy greens like spinach, spring mix or kale. That way you will get to eat what you want, but you’ll fill up more on your superfood greens and eat less of the high-calorie foods.

*Set the table. One of the simplest ways to start naturally eating less and enjoying food more is to eat all meals and snacks at the table. When you put food on a plate, eat at a table and sit in a chair you’ll eat much less than if you were eating while working on the computer, watching TV, standing in the fridge or driving!

*Build a better breakfast. A healthy diet starts with a nutritious breakfast. Think whole foods instead of pre-packaged foods high in calories and packed with preservatives. Eggland’s Best eggs contain double the omega-3s and more than double the vitamin B12 compared to ordinary eggs, which can be perfect for maintaining heart health. They also contain 25 percent less saturated fat, six times more vitamin D and 10 times the vitamin E of ordinary eggs. Plus, they taste great. Get your day started with this amazing recipe and you’ll be happier and healthier all day long.

Spinach, Grape Tomato and Cheddar Frittata

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil

6 ounces baby spinach

1 cup grape tomatoes, sliced in half

8 Eggland’s Best eggs (large)

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

salt & pepper to taste

1/4 cup milk

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Whisk eggs and milk together until smooth.

Heat cast iron or oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and saute spinach until wilted and then add half of the grape tomatoes.

Pour eggs slowly into pan.

Sprinkle cheese over eggs and spread remaining grape tomatoes evenly over the egg mixture.

Season with salt and pepper.

Place skillet to oven and bake for 20-30 minutes or until eggs are cooked through and golden brown.

Remove skillet from oven and let rest for a few minutes.

Cut into wedges and serve warm.

To find more delicious recipes, tips and tricks to celebrate 25 years of a more nutritious egg, sign up for the EB newsletter, http://www.egglandsbest.com/newsletter/.

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4 things you can do to protect your drinking water

(BPT) – Water is something many of us tend to devote little time thinking about, not because it is unimportant but because we take our clean, safe drinking water for granted. That is, until something occurs that shifts our focus and shows us how potentially fragile our water infrastructure really is.

News headlines from across North America have brought the threat of poor drinking water to the forefront and caused many people to be curious about their own water. Research from Culligan International shows that 75 percent of survey respondents said they were worried about the water they drink, while 73 percent had never had their water tested.

“For years we’ve taken the safety of our water for granted,” says Rick Cook, manager of industry and regulatory affairs for Culligan. “But our aging infrastructure has heightened the risks of harmful impurities such as lead and iron contaminating our water supply.”

Preserving safe drinking water is not something that can be left to chance. To protect yourself and your family and to ensure the water running in your home is safe to drink, Cook offers these tips.

* Know where water contamination can occur. Water impurities are not just limited to the water source. They can also occur in the distribution system. While many naturally occurring chemicals and impurities can be filtered at the source, it’s still possible for unsafe amounts of lead to enter your water. These issues are more common in older homes — those built before 1986 — which commonly feature lead pipes and fixtures.

* Educate yourself on the filtration system currently in place at your home. Water treatment solutions, including water softeners, reverse osmosis systems and specialty filters, can eliminate specific impurities in your water. However, charcoal pitchers and refrigerator cartridges cannot.

* Pay attention to the warning signs. Corroded plumbing fixtures, unpleasant odors, disagreeable taste, discolored water and even shortened appliance lifespan are all signs that something is wrong with your water. If you notice any or all of these occurring in your home, it’s time to get your water tested.

* Schedule a test to identify impurities in your water. Because water contamination can happen unexpectedly, through a municipality, your own well or your own pipes, it’s important to have your water tested by a water expert who can determine what harmful impurities — if any — are present and how to eliminate them. While testing can be done at any time, Culligan recommends scheduling a water test after you move into a new house, if you have appliances that are burning out or if you notice a change in the taste, odor or appearance of your water. If you have well water you should also have it tested whenever the water becomes cloudy or changes in taste or smell.

For more information about Culligan water treatment products, or to find your local Culligan representative, visit culligan.com.

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Healthier kids, healthier communities: 4 ways to get involved

(BPT) – It’s no secret that experiences in early and middle childhood are extremely important for a child’s healthy development and lifelong learning. Yet schools — the places where kids spend the majority of their time outside of the home during the week — often lack the resources and support needed to enable and inspire students to adopt healthier lifestyles.

The solution is within reach; it rests in the hands of parents and other concerned community members who make investments (even small ones) in kids inside and outside of school to help build healthier communities and a healthier world.

Dominique Dawes, an Olympic Gold Medalist, three-time Olympian and child nutrition advocate, shares her tips on how caregivers can get involved in manageable, meaningful ways to impact change within their children’s schools and communities.

1. Understand you’re not alone. Look to organizations with a footprint in your community, and seek out ways to volunteer. There’s a great organization called Action for Healthy Kids. With the help of sponsors like GoGo squeeZ, their volunteer network works to improve the health and wellness of students in schools nationwide and highlight the link between nutrition, physical activity and learning. They even have an “Every Kid Healthy Week” to celebrate the great effort schools are making. Programs like these are impactful resources for parents, students and teachers alike.

2. Reach out to your local parks and recreation department. Chances are, they’re looking for volunteers. You may be able to help out with something on a recurring basis — a wellness or athletic program of particular interest to you. Also, ask about other ways you can serve your community. They may have park cleanup programs or other projects that can get your whole family moving and contributing.

3. Make it fun. Talk to the administration at your child’s school about activities and competitions to help students take ownership of their own health. Action for Healthy Kids offers free online activities to help improve physical activity and nutrition in school, but you can also encourage your school to apply for a grant to expand your local resources. Sponsors like GoGo squeeZ fund new grants every year!

4. Don’t underestimate your own abilities. Did you grow up learning gymnastics? Speak to the parents of your kids’ friends about organizing a gymnastics workshop at the park one weekend. Do you have a passion for making (and eating) healthy food? Volunteer to bring easy, nutritious snacks to a local after-school program, sports group or camp whenever you’re able. Bonus: nothing builds new friendships faster than food!

“I talk to so many people who care about the issues we’re facing with childhood health and wellness but don’t know how to get their foot in the door,” Dawes says. “My best advice is to start small, but start somewhere. Just one small change can make a significant difference in the life of a child and the health of a community.”

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