By Keith Brannon
The Prevention Research Center (PRC) at Tulane University secured two recent grants that will support research, communications, and advocacy to improve access to healthy foods and provide opportunities for physical activity in New Orleans.
In December, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) renewed a 5-year, 5.3 million grant to the center. A total of 37 prevention research centers at institutions across the country are funded by the CDC to conduct research in disease prevention and control. The Tulane PRC’s focus is on the impact of the physical and social environments on obesity and public health within the New Orleans community.
Along with the renewal, the center was also awarded three Special Interest Projects totaling $254,483. These projects will enable the Tulane PRC to be a collaborating center in two different policy research networks, one focused on nutrition and the other focused on physical activity. A third Special Interest Project will fund a tobacco cessation program for pregnant women in Uruguay and Argentina.
This is the third time the center has received the grant, which is renewable every five years.
A month later, the PRC was awarded a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to improve opportunities for physical activity for children and families in New Orleans. New Orleans was one of 41 sites selected from over 500 proposals for the RWJF Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities initiative.
Through the Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities initiative, the PRC has established the KidsWalk coalition in New Orleans to increase physical activity levels of children and families by providing environments that facilitate walking and bicycling for both transportation and recreation.
“The KidsWalk coalition recognizes the need to improve the physical environment in New Orleans and is inspired by the opportunity to develop healthier neighborhoods by improving the roads that connect communities,” said Kathryn Parker-Karst, assistant director of the Tulane PRC and director of the Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities initiative. “Children will be active if given a safe dedicated space to do so.”
Making roadways more conducive to active transportation will also help the one-third of households in New Orleans without access to a car visit grocery stores and other fresh food retailers.
“To reverse this epidemic, communities are going to have to rally around their kids and provide the opportunities they need to be healthy,” said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, MBA, president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “Through this project, the Tulane University PRC and its partners are doing what it takes to make sure children lead better lives.”