Healthy Behavior for Social Change

Healthy habits can do more than trim your waistline – they may also prevent crime, create career opportunities or replace a probation sentence. Although this sweeping statement may come with the disclaimer “results not typical,” we noticed several programs that demonstrate the positive impact healthy behaviors can have on social ills:

Healthy Food Reduces School Crime
One Wisconsin school, taking part in the Education for Healthy Kids pilot program, sought to Run the Streets challenges at-risk youth to train for a half marathon in lieu of legal mandates such as juvenile detention, group homes and probation. Through the experience, participants learn the benefits of goal-setting, character development, adult mentoring and improved health. The outcome? The relapse rate for Run the Streets participants is only four percent – while youth placed in a group home for six months get back into trouble 25 percent of the time. What’s more, a group home placement costs about $25,000 while taking part in Run the Streets runs a mere $350 per participant.

We applaud the fresh approach these three programs have taken – demonstrating the cause and affect between health and social issues. We’ve all recognized that healthy behavior will help reduce cancer and other diseases, but as these programs show, its impact can be much more far-reaching. These examples serve as a guide for how social ails can be remedied with a healthy push in the right direction. Where are there other synergies between health and social issues?


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