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Childhood Obesity

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Childhood obesity, its impact on the development of chronic diseases, and the costs associated with its treatment are a pressing problem for today's society.  It has been stated that this may be the first generation of young Americans, born today, who will have a shorter life span than their parents or grandparents if childhood obesity rates are not revised.  Realizing the impact on our communities, WellSpan Health developed and implemented its coordinated, multi-faceted Growing Healthy prevention strategy to promote healthy eating and physical activity in York and Adams counties. Growing Healthy consists of four priority areas - communities, early childhood sites, healthcare settings, and schools - and is aligned with national recommendations to reduce the prevalence of childhood obesity. 

Through community-based partnerships and programs, WellSpan is committed to transforming our communities into those which encourage children, adults and families to make healthy choices.

  • Over the past three years, Community Health Improvement, in partnership with the Get Outdoors (GO) York Task Force of the Healthy York County Coalition, has implemented an award-winning, summer-long initiative to promote state, county and municipal parks and trails in York County as places for children and their families to be physically active. The 2010 program - GO and Make A Splash! - challenged participants to read clues and find 30 lost buoys - wooden posts with a unique rubbing plate on them - "hidden" in parks and along trails throughout York County. More than 7,500 Water Logs - program guides - were distributed by the York County Library System and 729 (9.7%) were returned at the completion of the program. This number does not account for parents, siblings, and other relatives who typically accompanied children on their hunt for lost buoys. An estimated 11,800 miles were walked by children who submitted their Water Logs, 247 children (33.9%) located all 30 GO and Make A Splash! lost buoys and walked 24.33 miles this summer.

  • Community Health Improvement developed and coordinates Market Basket of the Month, a strategic effort that brings together the school cafeteria, classroom, home, and community to promote healthy habits for children. Market Basket of the Month features a different fruit or vegetable each month. Participating schools may include the selected produce on the school cafeteria menu, and use program resources to give students hands-on opportunities to explore, taste and learn about the importance of eating a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables and being active every day. Community Health Improvement also collaborates with community organizations, early childcare centers, and farmer's markets to promote the feature market.

  • Community Health Improvement is also leading and participating in initiatives, such as Eat, Play, Breathe York; Bring On Play, and; the community Food Availability Task Force that promote healthy eating and physical activity behaviors as a means of reducing childhood obesity..

Growing Healthy Lives

WellSpan Health is committed to providing education and services that will assist parents and their families to improve their health.

  • Community Health Improvement provides educational materials to WellSpan healthcare providers and support staff that will help families to live healthier lives.  The activities and self-help information in these materials will help parents and children learn how to eat healthy and increase physical activity.

  • Since its inception in July 2007, more than 470 physicians, mid-level providers (nurse practitioners and physician assistants), clinical staff, and other support personnel at WellSpan Medical Group and other healthcare practice sites have been trained in the Growing Healthy Lives program.

Growing Healthy Tots

WellSpan Health is working with preschool settings to promote healthy eating and physical activity curricula. The curricula provided gives preschool staff easy to use lessons that focus on making healthy food choices and being physically active. The themes of the lessons are shared with parents through parent letters and take home activity packets which highlight the concepts being addressed with the preschoolers.

Since the pilot program began in the 2006-2007 school year, a total of 75 early childhood provider staff have been trained in the Growing Healthy Tots program. The program is being utilized at 10 preschool locations.

Growing Healthy Kids School Partnership Program

Helping children establish good health habits early in life can make the difference between health and disability in adulthood.  WellSpan Health created a school partnership program to assist schools with providing an environment that encourages healthful eating behaviors and regular physical activity.

Resources available through the Growing Healthy Kids school partnership program respond to national and state guidelines requiring comprehensive school wellness policies that include development of school health councils, and broad-based support for environment and policy changes that promote healthy eating and physical activity behaviors. 

Partnership opportunities are designed to support the wellness policies of the school districts in York and Adams counties.  Specific programs and materials are offered FREE to schools and are based upon National Physical Education Standards; and current recommendations for the National Association for Sports and Physical Education (NASPE) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). 

Through the Growing Healthy Kids School Partnership Program, Community Health & Wellness will:

  • Provide technical assistance in implementation of school wellness policies.  
  • Provide schools with a "Go, Slow, Whoa" food guide tool kit containing sample lessons, posters and other promotional materials.
  • Teach Type 2 - We're On to You!, a diabetes prevention program, for students in grades 6-8.
  • Coordinate networking dinners throughout the year for physical education teachers, food resource staff, and school nurses.
  • Provide physical education teachers with support, materials and links to professional websites for additional physical activity resources.
  • Help students in kindergarten through 8th grade get into the habit of being physically active by providing schools with materials to conduct The 25 Mile Club, the Kids On the Move Challenge, and the Families in Motion program.
  • Provide high schools with fitness equipment to support a personal fitness curriculum model.

The Growing Healthy Kids school partnership program is financially supported by the York Hospital Auxiliary. Teachers or school administrators may contact Joe Anne Ward-Cottrell at or (717) 851-3222 for more information about partnership opportunities.

The following schools are involved in the 2010-2011 Growing Health Kids School Partnership:

Adams County

  • Conewago Valley School District
    Conewago Valley Intermediate School
    New Oxford High School
  • Diocese of Harrisburg
    Immaculate Conception School
  • Gettysburg Area School District
    Gettysburg Area Middle School
    Gettysburg Area High School
  • Littlestown Area School District
    Rolling Acres Elementary School
    Alloway Creek Intermediate School
  • Upper Adams School District
    Arendtsville Elementary School
    Bendersville Elementary School
    Biglerville Elementary School
    Biglerville Middle School
    Biglerville High School 

 York County

  • Central York School District
    Hayshire Elementary School
    Roundtown Elementary School
    Sinking Springs Elementary School
    Central Middle School
    Central High School
  • Dover Area School District
    North Salem Elementary School
    Dover Area Intermediate School
  • Eastern York School District
    Eastern Middle School
    Eastern High School
  • Northeastern School District
    Northeastern Middle School
    Northeastern High School
  • Northern York County School District
    Dillsburg Elementary School
    Northern Elementary School
    South Mountain Elementary School
    Northern High School
  • Red Lion Area School District
    Clearview Elementary School
    Larry J. Macaluso Elementary School
    North Hopewell-Winterstown Elementary School
    Pleasant View Elementary School
    Red Lion Area Junior High School
    Red Lion Area Senior High School
  • South Eastern School District
    Delta-Peach Bottom Elementary School
    Fawn Area Elementary School
    Stewartstown Elementary School
    South Eastern Middle School East
    South Eastern Middle School West
    Kennard-Dale High School
  • Southern York County School District
    Shrewsbury Elementary School
  • Spring Grove Area School District
    New Salem Elementary School
    Paradise Elementary School
    Spring Grove Elementary School
    Spring Grove Area Intermediate School
    Spring Grove Area Middle School
    Spring Grove Area High School
  • West York Area School District
    Trimmer Elementary School
    West York Area Middle School
    West York Area High School
  • School District of the City of York
    Edgar Fahs Smith Middle School
  • York Suburban School District
    Indian Rock Elementary School
    York Suburban Middle School
    York Suburban Senior High School