Partner Spotlights

Partner Spotlight videos features Fit-Tastic! partners and their work.

If you’re interested joining us in a Partner Spotlight video, please reach out to us at

Dr. Christina Low Kapalu, PhD, is a Pediatric Psychologist at Children’s Mercy and shares some helpful tips for parents about how to promote family well-being while staying at home during the pandemic.

The second weekly video for Fit-Tastic! at Home features Laura Steele from BikeWalk KC talking about how to be physical activty during COVID-19.

In our third installment of the Fit-Tastic! at Home video series, we chat with Angel Obert from Wyandotte County Parks and Recreation about ways to stay safe and physically active while enjoying parks during COVID-19.

Our fourth installment of the Fit-Tastic! at Home video series features Broderick Crawford. Broderick is the Executive Director of the NBC Community Development Corporation, and during the interview he highlights his work to revive the Jersey Creek Trail in northeast Wyandotte County, and how it relates to systemic disinvestment, racism, and redlining.

In our fifth interview highlighting 12345 Fit-Tastic! partners, we talked with Max Kaniger, the Founder and Executive Director of Kanbe’s Markets. In response to the pandemic and the increasing demand for fresh food, Kanbe’s Markets has used its warehouse to store and distribute fresh produce with local organizations that are serving the KC community.

To celebrate July as Parks and Recreation Month, Wellness Coordinator Alison Smith from 12345 Fit-Tastic! partner Johnson County Park and Recreation District joined us to share ways that families can be physically active and safe in parks during COVID-19.

In our seventh installment of the Fit-Tastic! Partner Spotlight videos, we chatted with Sandy Reece, a Registered Dietitian at Johnson County WIC. Over the past year, Johnson County WIC has made a goal to educate parents and children about the importance of reducing sugary beverages and increasing water intake. During this interview, Sandy highlights resources to help families reduce sugary beverage intake as well as general information about changes to WIC’s operations during COVID-19.

Our eighth Fit-Tastic! Partner Spotlight features Atenas Mena, the Manager of School Health Services at Children’s Mercy. We discuss how schools can create a healthy and safe environment for their staff and students during the pandemic. You can find the report she mentions in the video here: Guidance for School Re-opening During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The ninth Fit-Tastic! Partner Spotlight highlights the for cardiorespiratory fitness in kids. Weighing In Director Dr. Robin Shook talks with Dr. David White from Children’s Mercy about a recent article shared by the American Heart Association on how aerobic testing can improve kids’ health, from Dr. Geetha Raghuveer from Children’s Mercy. 

The tenth Fit-Tastic! Partner Spotlight features Weighing In’s Emily Meissen-Sebelius talking with Michelle Dake, the Director of Youth Initiatives at KC Healthy Kids, about the Champions for Health program. The Champions for Health program teaches students how their surroundings impact their health and how they can create change through advocacy. From school gardens to PE equipment to funds towards a new playground, these student-led projects have made a big impact in their schools and communities. This year, students can think creatively about how to advocate for healthy opportunities, whether that’s for in-person or virtual learning.

In this Fit-Tastic! Partner Spotlight, we visit again with Alison Smith from Johnson County Park and Recreation District (JCPRD) to talk about their new Learning Hubs. There are five Learning Hubs planned for JCPRD park facilities, and they are designed to “provide in-person places for students in grades one through eight to safely learn and enjoy enrichment experiences as school reopening plans continue to fluctuate in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

In the Partner Spotlight leading up to the Kansas City Physical Activity Summit, Dr. Robin Shook from Weighing In was joined by Dr. Bill Kohl, Research Professor in the Department of Kinesiology at the Health Education University of Texas Health Science Center. Dr. Kohl introduced his work creating the National Physical Activity Plan, and shared some good advice on how Kansas City can use that plan to improve physical activity rates locally.

This week’s Partner Spotlight featured Elizabeth Wilson from Weighing In, who presented research on the state of physical activity in the Kansas City Region. The 2020 Kansas City Regional Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth (KCPA Report Card) is the first installment of a comprehensive evaluation of the state of physical activity of the population of the Kansas City region, with an emphasis on the activity of children and youth.

At the end of September 2020, we checked back in for a Fit-Tastic! at Home Partner Spotlights with Broderick Crawford, the Executive Director of the NBC CDC. Broderick shared updates from his organization about Every Baby to 1, how the NBC CDC Food Pantry is responding during COVID, and ways to be physically active from wherever you are by participating in the Jersey Creek Trail Virtual 5k that was held on October 3rd, 2020.

For our first Fit-Tastic! Partner Spotlight in October, we checked in with the The Family Conservancy, which shared more about their Early Childhood Fall Symposium, which will be the week of October 12, 2020. Janelle Balarashti from The Family Conservancy also shares more information about the focus of the symposium and opportunities to better serve children and families.

It’s Walktober, which means it’s a great time of year to get out and enjoy the beautiful weather while it lasts! The Mid-America Regional Council (MARC) is a regional planning agency that supports a lot of great resources that will help you find a place to walk in your area. MARC has also partnered with BikeWalkKC, KC Healthy Kids, and local health departments to create KC Walks, which shares some fun ways to walk in your area. One way to walk this WalkTober is by using the brand new Regional Trails & Bikeways Map. You can also order a printed version of the map here.

In this Fit-Tastic! Partner Spotlight, we were joined by Heidi Markle from Kansas City, MO Parks and Recreation. Heidi shared some of the Walktober events that they’ve held this month. You can also use the KCMO Parks and Rec website to find a great park to explore near you. The Rock Island Trail is another great place to explore this fall, which Fit-Tastic! partner BikeWalkKC has been a long-time supporter of.

For our Partner Spotlight on how to have a Safe and Healthy Halloween, Emily Meissen-Sebelius from Weighing In was joined by Brad Winfrey, the Safety and Injury Prevention Manager from Center for Childhood Safety and Car Seat Program at Children’s Mercy. While Halloween 2020 may look a little different, Brad encouraged families to think about low-risk activities that celebrate Halloween at home, allow for social distance and mask wearing, to reduce the risk from COVID-19. From decorating pumpkins, to participating in a scavenger hunt for Halloween decorations or a costume parade where children can remain outside and physically distanced, Children’s Mercy provides tips and ideas for families to celebrate in safe, healthy and creative ways!

This week’s Fit-Tastic! Partner Spotlight features Michael Kelley from BikeWalkKC, who shared recent efforts to pass a Complete Streets Ordinance for Wyandotte County, Kansas. You can learn more about complete streets on BikeWalkKC’s website. Michael also shared information about the recent World Day of Remembrance for Traffic Victims info & ways that people can advocate for more traffic safety. The Pathways to VisionZero Summit is another pedestrian safety event this month, hosted by MARC.

In this week’s Partner Spotlight, Weighing In’s Shelly Summar checked in with Dr. Helena Laroche about ways that families can connect with community resources. Dr. Laroche is one of the newest members of the Center for Children’s Healthy Lifestyles & Nutrition at Children’s Mercy. Dr. Laroche shared some of her past community-based research from her time in Iowa, including a pilot study where researchers were able to increase healthy foods while keeping people satisfied at concession stands. Dr. Laroche will also be featured in the next Weighing In Quarterly Meeting on December 10th from 9am – 11am. Dr. Laroche will be speaking about family and community approaches to obesity prevention. You can register to attend here.

For this week’s Fit-Tastic! at Home Partner Spotlight, Weighing In interviewed Dr. Kevin Smith, a pediatric psychologist at Children’s Mercy Kansas City about recommendations for sleeping. Dr. Smith shared two helpful books that parents can use to encourage better sleep for their children: Sleeping Through the Night, Revised Edition: How Infants, Toddlers, and Their Parents Can Get a Good Night’s Sleep & Take Charge of Your Child’s Sleep: The All-in-One Resource for Solving Sleep Problems in Kids and Teens. Dr. Smith also shared a helpful website from the Pediatric Sleep Council that has great advice for parents on with children under the ages of 8 years old.

For the final Fit-Tastic! Partner Spotlight of 2020, Shelly Summar interviewed Aubrey Neal, a dietitian and lifestyle coach with Children’s Mercy Clinic and Cerner. Aubrey shared some helpful tips about eating healthier during the holidays. In the interview, she referenced the Yummly app as one way to coordinate meal planning from your phone. Another service she shared helps you find seasonal produce near you, based upon the time of year and where you are located.

For our first Fit-Tastic! Spotlight of 2021, Mallory Moon shares details from the Stay Active Program and its research study. Mallory is a Research Assistant II at the Center for Children’s Healthy Lifestyles and Nutrition at Children’s Mercy. Mallory shared the Stay Active Pilot Research study which is being conducted by Dr. Jordan Carlson, PhD. The Stay Active study includes a virtual exercise program that is offered twice a week, to school classrooms in the Kansas City metro. During the study, students are provided with Garmin activity trackers as well as family guidance for living a healthy lifestyle while at-home.

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