Stories about: Office of Community Health

Boston Children’s Collaboration for Community Health helps families thrive

shari nethersole, md
Dr. Shari Nethersole speaks at a community meeting.

Justin’s mom grabs him a fast food dinner because the nearest supermarket is two bus rides away. Mia is afraid to play outside because there was a recent shooting in her neighborhood. Janelle’s parents have trouble covering all their expenses each month and are worried the family will be evicted from their apartment. These scenarios are stressful for families in the short term, but they can also have lasting effects on health and well-being. Without access to affordable, fresh foods, stable housing and other supportive resources, families may struggle to provide the environment that both parents and kids need to thrive in the long term. “Good health depends on much more than access to healthcare,” explains Dr. Shari Nethersole, Executive Director for Community Health at Boston Children’s Hospital. “Housing, education, safety, access to food and physical activity all have a major influence on health and longevity.”

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Helping kids get fit — one step at a time

Parents in the community learn how to cook healthy food for their families
Families participating in Fitness in the City (FIC), a partnership with Boston Children’s Hospital, get referrals to resources and educational offerings like this cooking class.

“How many tortillas do you eat at dinner?” Francisca Guevara asks the boy and his parents. “Okay,” she says when they tell her three. “Do you think you could eat two instead? Or even just one?” They nod in agreement: That seems possible.

As the associate director of community health and outreach for Charles River Community Health, Guevara recognizes the need to meet families where they are, tailoring her suggestions to fit their traditions. “We can’t tell people that they can no longer eat the foods that are important to their culture,” she explains. “That just puts families on the defensive. But we can explain why certain foods aren’t healthy and suggest that they eat smaller or less-frequent portions.”

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