The Partnership for Health Literacy in Arkansas held its 2015 Mid-Winter Conference at the central office of the Arkansas Department of Health in Little Rock on January 22, 2015. This year’s theme was “How to Help Parents with Low Literacy Understand Nutrition”. We had several knowledgeable speakers to address this theme.
Our first speaker for the day was Rachel Townsend, director of the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance’s Cooking Matters Program. Townsend reviewed the program and its specialized curricula for teach nutrition to parents, families, teens, and kids. She also discussed cultural literacy and Cooking Matters’ methods for training volunteers, as well as changes the program has made to more successfully reach its target audience.
Our second presentation was by Deborah Shirey, DNP, FNP and Marilou Shreve, DNP, PNP from the University of Arkansas Eleanor Mann School of Nursing. Shirey and Shreve discussed obesity statistics, comorbidities, and risks associated with obesity in the pediatric population. They described the need for limiting sugar and fat intake, and for implementing behavioral changes that lead to healthier eating and physical activity. Some of these changes include: decrease snacking, decrease eating outside of the home, and turn off the TV and eat at the table.
Leanne Whiteside-Mansell, Ed.D. and Taren Swindle, Ph.D. conducted our last presentation. Their discussion focused on putting yourself in the shoes of the children and families you work with. They advised using plain language, simple messages, and an empathetic attitude. The three key messages they encouraged participants to deliver to parents were: role model positive behavior, allow children to choose if they eat and how much, and ask about hunger instead of requiring children to “clean their plate”.
We wrapped up the program with Joy Rockenbach, who presented on the work of ARCOP and helped facilitate a discussion on how to take things learned at the conference and use them in daily work.
Materials from the conference are below. Videos to come.