More than a decade ago, a community task force of educators, medical professionals and health advocates convened in New Orleans to address the prevalence of youth risk behaviors in the region. The result was the formation of Healthy Lifestyle Choices (HLC), dedicated to empowering youth with the knowledge and skills to make healthy choices for a lifetime. Based on best practices and independent research, HLC created school-based programs focused on safety, nutrition, fitness, violence prevention and substance abuse prevention. These programs have proven to increase health knowledge and positively impact youth behaviors.
What started as a movement to improve the lives of children in New Orleans has become a national effort in schools and community centers. Further, HLC has become a strong advocate for wellness and youth risk behavior prevention, serving as a featured presenter at national conferences, and assuming a leadership role in advancing obesity prevention and other wellness initiatives.
- Developed behavioral-health curricula and programs for the classroom and for after-school/summer camp settings (ages 4-14).
- An independent evaluation of HLC’s original elementary program found that children exposed to HLC have significantly higher health knowledge than peers without exposure to HLC; further, this knowledge translates to behavior changes in school and at home.
- A new longitudinal study of HLC’s elementary curriculum, 2nd edition, is currently underway.
- Nationally, schools and community programs use HLC programming every day.
- Significant funders of HLC include Baptist Community Ministries, Methodist Health System Foundation, Inc., Greater New Orleans Foundation, and Sam’s Club.
- Key collaborators include LSU Health Sciences Center, School of Nursing, Xavier University Professional Experience Program, Ochsner Health System and the Alliance for a Healthier Generation.