Diocese, Episcopalians join Wisconsin anti-obesity campaign

August 29, 2012

[Campaign for Healthy Kids] On Aug. 28 First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move Faith and Communities and Save the Children’s Campaign for Healthy Kids project (CHK) announced its joint Wisconsin anti-obesity campaign and introduced their local faith partners at a press conference in Racine, Wisconsin.

“Each of us have a role to play in solving the problem of childhood obesity, and faith leaders are uniquely positioned to build healthy congregations and communities for our kids. Our faith communities don’t only care for children’s spiritual health but also for their emotional and physical health. I hope this commitment challenges more of our organizations and congregations to do what they do best: inspire and empower people to make meaningful changes in their lives,” said First Lady, Michelle Obama.

The press conference was followed immediately by an inaugural strategy session with Max Finberg, senior policy advisor in the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, who traveled to Racine to represent Let’s Move!, CHK Project Director Andrew Hysell, and Faith United to End Childhood Obesity National Coordinator Vincent DeMarco. Faith United is an initiative of CHK that recruits and trains faith leaders nationwide to promote healthier lifestyles in their congregations and communities.

“All faith leaders, regardless of denomination, care equally about the welfare of children and Let’s Move Faith and Communities seeks to harness that common concern, “said CHK Project Director Hysell. “This collaboration aligns perfectly with the Campaign for Healthy Kids’ goal of galvanizing local faith leaders to advocate for policy change.”

The four faith leaders introduced as partners – the Rev. Scott Stoner, president and executive director, Samaritan Family Wellness Foundation, representing the Episcopal Diocese of Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Matt Ellis, executive director, National Episcopal Health Ministries; the Rev. Beth Abbott, pastor, St. Luke’s United Church of Christ, South Milwaukee, representing the Wisconsin Conference of the United Church of Christ; and Rabbi Dena Feingold, Beth Hillel Temple (Reform Congregation), Kenosha, Wisconsin, representing the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Milwaukee Jewish Federation – expressed a shared excitement about the impact of the work they will do together and the unique opportunity before them.

“The Episcopal Diocese of Milwaukee joins many Wisconsin faith leaders today in pledging to work with Faith United To End Childhood Obesity and the First Lady’s Let’s Move Team to address the epidemic of childhood obesity in our state,” said Stoner. “The faith community is uniquely able to bring people together on this very important issue and we look forward to doing that here in Wisconsin.”

“Jews, Christians, Muslims and people of all faiths are united in our commitment to reducing childhood obesity and keeping our children healthy,” Feingold said. “By working closely with Faith United To End Childhood Obesity and the First Lady’s Let’s Move Team, Wisconsin can lead the way to brighter futures for our children and communities.”

“The United Church of Christ is a proud partner with the First Lady’s Let’s Move Team,” said Abbott. “We will work closely with Faith United To End Childhood Obesity and our fellow Wisconsin faith leaders to fully implement the Let’s Move toolkit in our state in order to

save our kids from the scourge of childhood obesity.”

Members of many different congregations from across the state attended today’s announcement, as did members of Wisconsin non-profit organizations.

Through CHK, Save the Children will work to support and expand grassroots participation in the First Lady’s Let’s Move Faith and Communities initiative by encouraging leaders to sign on to the Let’s Move Faith and Communities website. CHK’s Faith United to End Childhood Obesity will identify and organize Wisconsin faith leaders from a number of diverse faith congregations. The effort will equip and empower these community faith leaders to convene health councils and implement the five pillars of Let’s Move!: Creating a healthy start for children, empowering parents and caregivers, providing healthy food in schools, improving access to healthy, affordable foods, and increasing physical activity.

The partnership aims to sign on 1,000 additional faith leaders to the Let’s Move! website by the end of the year.

CHK’s Faith United to End Childhood Obesity includes representatives from the following faith


African Methodist Episcopal Church

American Baptist Churches of the South

American Muslim Health Professionals

Catholic Charities

Catholic Health Association

Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

Episcopal Church

Evangelical Lutheran Church

General Board of Church and Society, United Methodist Church

General Commission on United Methodist Men

Health Ministries Association

International Parish Nurse Resource Center

Islamic Society of North America

Jewish Reconstructionist Federation

National Coalition of Ministries to Men

National Council of Churches of Christ

North American Division of the Seventh-Day Adventists

Presbyterian Church USA

Progressive National Baptist Convention

United Church of Christ

United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism

Women of Reform Judaism

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