Healthy Lifestyle Choices

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A local nonprofit helping people to make healthy choices…

In 1998 a community task force was formed to study the prevalence of youth risk behaviors in the Greater New Orleans area. The task force began by examining the six modifiable behaviors identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as the leading causes of death and disability in children and adults.  These behaviors include tobacco use, unhealthy dietary habits, inadequate physical activity, alcohol and other drug use, sexual behavior resulting in disease or pregnancy, and intentional (violence/suicide) or unintentional (accidents) injuries.  After looking at existing research, conducting focus groups with parents, educators and students and examining best practices, Healthy Lifestyle Choices (HLC) was formed as a nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing these risk behaviors in the Greater New Orleans region.

It is clear that personal behaviors and decisions are the number one factor in determining an individual’s health.  Therefore, we must arm our youth with the knowledge and skills to make decisions that lead to healthier, happier, more productive lives. So, in the midst of spiraling obesity rates and chronic issues such as youth violence and substance use, it is critically important that prevention efforts become a priority for communities.

HLC creates and disseminates innovative educational programs and media that empower all youth to make healthy choices. Our programs include: the Turtle Tykes Preschool Behavioral Health Curriculum; the HLC Behavioral Health Curriculum in Grades K – 5; the HLC Middle School Program; and CAMP BOOST, an after-school/summer camp enrichment program that teaches health through art, music, drama and games. Additionally, this past fall HLC began a pilot program in local middle and high schools that utilizes peer leaders to identify and address risk behaviors affecting their campus and community.

As Healthy Lifestyle Choices celebrates more than ten years of service, HLC continues to advocate for quality health education and physical activity in an environment where health education, PE and recess have been reduced or eliminated due to a concentration on literacy and numeracy.  HLC educates and encourages administrators to include instruction that benefits the whole child through cognitive, emotional/social and physical learning.  HLC has been recognized recently for our efforts by school districts, funders and state and national associations. In March 2011, HLC Program Director, LaVerne Price, was recognized as Health Practitioner of the Year by the American Association of Health Educators and the Louisiana Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance.

Starting in New Orleans with a mission to reduce youth risk behaviors in the region, HLC programming has proven to increase health knowledge and positively impact youth behaviors and choices. What started as a local initiative has spread nationally, now reaching 210,000 youth weekly, ages 3-14, in 44 states and 40 Louisiana parishes. HLC is also active in providing professional development for area educators. Two professional development opportunities are offer each year on relevant topics such as developing a wellness council, cyber bullying and how media plays a role in contributing to substance use and poor self image among our youth.

Healthy Lifestyle Choices also provides tips and ideas for parents to keep their children safe and healthy through the HLC Parenting Guide available.  Tips include simple things your family can do to make positive changes in nutrition and physical activities as well as information about helping your child learn to resolve conflicts peaceably and build self esteem.  The guide is available online at www.hlconline.org.

HLC is led by a small diverse staff of one full-time and four part-time members with experience in education, counseling, business, strategic planning, marketing and sales. HLC operations are governed by a Board of Trustees with committees focusing on programming, evaluation and finance.

Healthy Lifestyle Choices’ Curriculum

HLC Turtle Tykes Program (Pre-K)

Developed in collaboration with the American Health Foundation, Turtle Tykes is a pre-K behavioral-health curriculum designed to introduce healthy behaviors to young children. Topics Include:

  • Life Skills
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Safety
  • Nutrition
  • Fitness
  • Wellness

HLC Behavioral-Health Curriculum (grades K – 5)

Taught cross-curricular or as part of physical education, the HLC Behavioral-Health Curriculum standards-based program includes five easy steps and lesson booster activity for key message reinforcement.

Topics covered include:

  • Life Skills
  • Nutrition
  • Fitness
  • Safety
  • Conflict Resolution/Violence Prevention
  • Substance Abuse Prevention

HLC Middle School Program (grades 6 – 8)

The HLC Middle School Program engages youth to become their own health advocate. The program is designed to teach important health skills by providing youth with information about positive behaviors and consequences, and allowing them to work in teams to reach healthy conclusions.

Topics covered include:

  • Wellness
  • Mental and emotional health
  • Effective communication and decision-making
  • Alcohol, tobacco and other drugs
  • Injury and violence prevention
  • Physical activity and nutrition
  • Growth and development
  • Diseases/HIV/Aids
  • Environmental health

CAMP BOOST (after-school/summer camp program, ages 5 -12)

Kids want to be active and play during after-school and summer camp programs. With Camp Boost, they can engage in enrichment activities such as drama, art, music and games while also learning important health skills.

Topics covered include:

  • Life skills
  • Nutrition
  • Fitness
  • Safety
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Substance Abuse Prevention
  • The Environment

Learn more about Healthy Lifestyle Choices

For more information about HLC or how to incorporate its programs into your school or organization, please visit www.hlconline.org or contact Donna Betzer at 504.299.1966 or dbetzer@hlconline.org.

 

 

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