By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has committed $16 million in funding for the third year of Voices for Healthy Kids, a joint initiative with the American Heart Association.

“Voices for Healthy Kids is truly a driving force of the national movement for healthier communities. We focus on communities striving for healthy kids,” said AHA CEO Nancy Brown. “Many have been working to help all kids grow up at a healthy weight for more than a decade, but they needed more support to reach the tipping point. We are here to provide communities that support.”

During the initiative’s first two years, Voices for Healthy Kids funded efforts to:

  • open more grocery stores in low-income communities;
  • unlock schoolyard gates so families could have a safe place to play;
  • remove sugary drinks from childcare centers;
  • help develop sidewalks and bike paths.

The initiative’s third year focus will continue to be on community changes that allow kids to eat healthier and be more active.

“We couldn’t have done it alone or without support from Voices for Healthy Kids and the Minnesotans for Healthy Kids Coalition. They were the perfect partners in this success,” said Dorian Grilley, the executive director of the Bicycle Alliance for Minnesota. Minnesota was one of the first states to create a safe routes to school program after it was awarded $1 million in funding for infrastructure in a capital investment bonding bill.