Wasco County Coalition to Reduce Childhood Obesity

Wasco Project Team- DoC signing

Community Leaders celebrating the signing of the Declaration of Cooperation to reduce childhood obesity on June 3, 2015 at Chenowith Elementary School in The Dalles.

Click Here to view our community’s promise to reduce childhood obesity

Childhood Obesity in Wasco County Infographic


Here’s How We Got Started

The rate of childhood obesity in Wasco County exceeds both the state and the national levels. More than one in three children in our county are clinically obese, meaning they have a body mass index, or BMI, greater than the 85th percentile.

Initial Work for this project began in 2013 with the measurement of percentile BMIs of children at one elementary school in The Dalles. Higher than state average overweight and obesity rates were noted, which prompted additional inquiry. A Columbia Gorge Health Council (CCO) transformation grant was obtained through PacificSource Community Solutions to study the BMI percentiles of the 3 largest elementary schools in The Dalles. Those results again showed higher than state and national averages of overweight and obese children.

The initial grant proposal included implementing a specific intervention aimed at parental education and increasing physical activity. North Central Public Health District , Mid Columbia Medical Center and Chenowith Elementary partnered to promote the We Can! Program for families of Chenowith Elementary students. We Can! informational sessions were scheduled for four Wednesday evenings in May, 2013, held at Chenowith Elementary School at no charge to participants. Talks were delivered in English and Spanish. Presenters included Dr. Vern Harpole, Dr. Miriam McDonell, and Kjersti Madsen, RD. Topics included how to speak to children about obesity, basic nutrition and healthy behaviors. Talks modeled after the We Can! Ways to Enhance Children’s Activity and Nutrition program, developed by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Recognizing a need for grass roots support from parents and the community for the work to truly make an impact, NCPHD staff revised their plan to include a much broader approach to inform local leaders of the scope and intensity of the problem and development of a coalition. Designated as an Oregon Solutions (OS) project, the coalition became a reality in the spring of 2015.

The OS project team was charged to “create a community action plan that enables public sector, private sector, and non-profit organizations to agree on shared outcomes and coordinate team members’ specific activities.” The community action plan to reduce childhood obesity will ultimately involve actions making an impact at three levels: culture, policy and regulation.

The Community Action Plan for Reducing Childhood Obesity in Wasco County was signed into action on June 3, 2015 with the full support from a variety of community leaders.

Long Range Plans

The Coalition will focus on aligning community members, integrating services and leveraging resources to improve healthy eating and active living for Wasco County children.