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FOR RELEASE: March 23 , 2006
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
405/271-5601

Designing Healthy Communities: Raising Healthy Kids
National Public Health Week, April 3-9

During National Public Health Week, April 3-9, the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) will be calling the public’s attention to this year’s theme, “Designing Healthy Communities: Raising Healthy Kids,” which encourages local communities to identify ways to improve their neighborhoods to make them healthier and safer for children and families.

“At the state level there are many legislative initiatives going forward this year that will help provide healthier communities for children,” said State Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Crutcher.

The following list includes some of the proposed legislation that could improve the health and safety of children in Oklahoma:

Childhood Obesity (SB 1515); (HB 2655) -- Creates a statewide Farm-to-School program that will improve school nutrition programs by assisting local school districts in buying and using locally grown produce and expanding food and nutrition programs in schools. For more information contact the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy at 405-236-5437 or visit their Web site at www.oica.org.

Children’s ATV Safety Act (S.B. 1830) - This bill would require youth under age 18 to wear a helmet when riding on an all-terrain vehicle. It would also prohibit children 14 and under from carrying passengers. For more information on ATV safety in Oklahoma, visit www.health.state.ok.us/program/injury/ATV/index.html.

Kyle Williams Boating Safety Act (S.B. 1495) - This bill would prohibit persons age 16 and younger from operating a boat in excess of 10 hp or any sail-powered vessel 16 feet or longer unless the operator has successfully completed a course in safe boating as established by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators; and received a boating safety education certificate as evidence of successful completion of said course. In addition, any boat operator at least age 12 but under age 16 would have to meet the training requirements above and be accompanied by a competent adult, 18 years of age or older. For more information, contact the Oklahoma Safe Kids Coalition at 405-271-4471 or visit their Web site at www.oksafekids.org.

At the community level, organizations will highlight the following National Public Health Week themes that impact children’s health and safety.
1. The impact of built environment on children’s health. The built environment is any structure that children come into contact with on a daily basis like playgrounds, sidewalks and bike trails at or near schools, homes, parks, and businesses.

2. Surrounding our kids with equal opportunity - fresh foods, primary care and healthy housing. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables can help reduce the risk of many chronic diseases including cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, and other diseases.

3. Surrounding our kids with opportunities for physical activity including sidewalks, bike paths, neighborhood parks, and spaces for physical education in schools.

4. Surrounding our kids with a safe environment that is free from lead, mold, and other poisons.

5. Surrounding our kids with clean air. Smog from traffic and other airborne toxins can cause asthma attacks. Children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of secondhand smoke.

For more information on ways to involve your community, visit this Web site: http://www.apha.org/nphw/2006/. A pop quiz to assess your local community needs can be found at http://www.apha.org/nphw/2006/quiz.cfm. More information on National Public Health Week can also be found on this Web site: http://www.health.ok.gov/calendar/.

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