Boston Children’s Hospital’s Healthy in the City (formerly Fitness in the City) Program provides Boston families with the tools and resources needed to live healthy and active lives as part of the hospital’s community mission. It is also designed to help motivate families to set goals and participate in fitness and nutrition activities.
Boston Children’s provides capacity building and financial support to participating community health centers. The health centers offer case management services and connect families to nutritional education and physical activities located either at their health center or in the community.
Every year, 11 community health centers in Dorchester, Jamaica Plain, Roxbury, Brighton, Mattapan, East Boston, and the South End enroll over 1,100 new patients and families and continue to work with those enrolled from previous years. Another important aspect of Healthy in the City is building relationships with community organizations such as YMCA of Greater Boston, Healthworks Community Fitness, Outdoors Rx, Boston Centers for Youth & Families, Cooking Matters, and more. Healthy in the City provides referrals for children and families to these organizations to access their physical fitness and nutrition activities.
The children and youth participating in Healthy in the City will:
- be assessed for their readiness to make the behavioral changes needed to maintain a healthy weight
- develop wellness goals with their case manager
- be connected to appropriate nutrition resources and opportunities for physical activity
- attend physical activity programs at their health center or organizations such as the YMCA, Healthworks Community Fitness, and/or Boston Centers for Youth & Families
- attend a nutrition visit at their health center and/or participate in a cooking class or other nutrition education group activity
Healthy in the City works!
- Patients are making short- and long-term health and wellness changes. 61% of patients decreased or maintained their body mass index over one year (2020-21). Also, an analysis of nine years of data from eight community health centers shows a statistically significant reduction in obesity-related health measures (body mass index).
- Healthy in the City is making an impact on patients’ behaviors. Analyses have shown that children participating in the program have reduced the amount of screen time used on the weekend, and the amount of soda or juice drank per day. In addition, children have been shown to increase their daily consumption of vegetables per day.
- Health centers are now implementing new programming onsite such as cooking classes, Zumba, gardening, yoga, and more. 91% of Healthy in the City sites offer physical activity or nutrition programs, and 82% offer patients opportunities to access nutritious and affordable food on site.