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Community/Media Partnerships

Communities play an important part in supporting children in eating healthy foods and maintaining an active lifestyle. In order for children to make healthy choices, they have to have access to places where they can eat healthy foods and run and play. Community members and businesses can model positive behaviors and practices, and support your efforts financially or through access to other resources. Children are heavily influenced by the communities they live in, so demonstrating that it's easy to make healthy choices in their neighborhood is important in creating and maintaining lifelong good habits.

Ideas for Partnering with Your Community

  • Participate in a community garden.
  • Work with local parks, recreation centers and museums to negotiate reduced admission and special offerings for child care centers or homes.
  • Bring in members of the community as special guests to talk about and engage children in healthy eating and physical activity. Consider athletes, coaches, chefs and restaurateurs.
  • Have families participate in a local one-mile fun run, walk or bike. Encourage families to walk with kids ages four and older and to put their smallest members in a stroller or carrying pack. You can organize your own race for parents, friends and the community at large.
  • Hold a sneaker drive and donate shoes collected.
  • Organize a soccer, volleyball or kickball tournament with other child care centers or homes, or community centers.
  • Attend special community events to learn how other cultures stay physically active through dancing, sports, etc.
  • Work with parents and community organizations to revive local parks, athletic fields and courts to create safe places for children and families to play.
  • Collaborate with your local school on a "Safe Routes to School" project. State funding is available to make neighborhood streets and sidewalks safe for walking and biking.
  • Work with community organizations to clean up an abandoned lot and create a small park. Increasing green space in cities, even in small places, decreases stress and depression in those who see, visit or live in the area. Small neighborhood parks are also great places for family activities, quiet reading spots and community gardens.
  • Start a farmers' market or invite an existing market to visit your community one day a week.
  • Talk to neighborhood restaurant owners about offering healthier choices on their menus, for kids and for adults.
  • Raise support for a grocery store to open in your neighborhood, or for your local corner stores to carry fresh produce, whole grain products and other healthy options.

Working with the Media

Working with the media can be a key tool in developing partnerships within your community; however, there are a few things you need to consider:

What is your message?

The first thing you need to do is identify your key messages – key points that you'd like to make. To help you understand and develop your own key messages, we have examples of messages that you can use and/or modify as you wish.

After you decide on the message you want to send, it's important that you continue to use that same message repeatedly when inviting media to attend an event, being interviewed by the media, talking with parents and inserting information about Leap of Taste in parent newsletters.

Who are your media contacts?

Next, you need to get to know your area media contacts. In rural West Virginia, it's all about relationships. Investing the time in getting to know your area media representatives can have big results! Keep a current media contact list on hand that includes names, phone numbers, fax numbers and email. Also, identify area media personalities and get to know them.

To create your media contact list, go to http://wvde.state.wv.us/nutrition/toolkit/media.html. Choose your county in the drop down box. You will find newspaper, radio and television contact information. Make a personal introduction by phone; then ask if they prefer that media advisories or press releases be emailed, faxed or both.

Remember, your work is not done until you follow up. You must call once again the day before or morning of your event to remind the media and ask if anyone plans to cover the story. Don't be afraid to follow up, follow up, follow up! Also, stay in touch with your local media representatives in between events. Invite them to lunch or to take a tour of your facility. Again, relationship building is what it's all about!

How do you inform the media?

Before contacting media, you should have a media advisory or a press release prepared. Send out a media advisory to invite media to an event or activity. Think of a media advisory as an invitation that covers event basics - what, who, when and where. Media advisories should go out two to three days before an event.

You can also send out a press release to get coverage on something that's happened already. After an event, especially an event where media did not show, send out a press release written in past tense to make it easy for media to cover your story. Press releases should go out immediately after an event - the day of!

Take photos of nutrition education events and activities; make sure you have permission to take photos of children in your care and assign someone to take good photos of event activities that can be made available to the media - preferably in electronic form. If you have permission from parents, you can also place photos on your website or Facebook page.