We hope this finds you enjoying the beautiful weather and looking forward to a healthy and active summer. We are getting ready to travel to the May 30-June 1 Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities Annual Grantee Meeting in Chapel Hill, NC. The three Milwaukee representatives look forward to learning and sharing from others doing this work across the country and returning to Milwaukee with renewed energy and ideas.


Information about our upcoming June 5th MCOPP Leadership Team meeting can be found to the right. We hope you can join us. Please RSVP if you plan to attend.


The article below recaps the engaging process of Group Model Building in which some of the Milwaukee team engaged in early 2012.


We welcome your participation in MCOPP and with our subcommittees that are working on policy and environment change strategies focused on: (1) healthy food and beverages; (2) land use opportunities for active lifestyles, healthy eating, and recreation; (3) active living; and (4) curriculum and professional development. Please contact us if you are interested in serving on a subcommittee. 


Join us in our mission of working together for healthy eating and active living. We envision a Milwaukee with reduced childhood obesity where the healthy choice is the easy choice. Thanks for your support of the Milwaukee Childhood Obesity Prevention Project.


Best wishes,


Sarah O'Connor (MCOPP Manager, United Neighborhood Centers of Milwaukee) & David Nelson (MCOPP Director, Medical College of Wisconsin)

Group Model Building:

Part of our Healthy Eating and Active Living Story

By David Nelson, PhD, MS, Medical College of Wisconsin



On a sunny winter day, 22 MCOPP Leadership Team members gathered at Neighborhood House of Milwaukee to work with our program evaluation team from Transtria to participate in a Group Model Building (GMB) exercise. GMB is a community-participatory exercise used to understand social issues. In our case, the MCOPP team discussed ideas and strategies on the individual, community and community change levels related to healthy eating and active living.


After warming up the group, Transtria group leaders Allison and Tammy had the group draw individual "Behavior Over Time" graphs. These graphs depicted some aspect of healthy eating or active living from the perspective of past, present and future. For the next 20 minutes, participants drew graphs that ranged from the availability of junk food to funding opportunities. As the members finished up their drawings, they then explained what they thought occurred in community. Said one participant when describing kids walking to school "obviously my fear is that it will continue to go down [walking] and my hope is that people will eventually perceive the neighborhood to be safer and thus walking will increase".


GMB Behavior Over Time Graphs
Several graphs drawn by Milwaukee GMB participants.


After a short break, the team began making a Causal Loop Diagram from the 10 themes that emerged from the "Behavior Over Time" graphs. In this hour-long activity, the team made connections between the themes to identify feedback loops. The facilitators drew either positive (virtuous) lines or negative (vicious) lines to indicate causality or directionality. Two examples are: "healthy meals youth receive per day" leads to more "fruit and vegetable consumption". This is an example of a positive feedback loop - both moving in a positive direction. For the second example, increased "activity in the neighborhood" causes "obesity" to decrease. The team worked hard to make as many connections as possible. The resulting Causal Loop Diagram is shown below.




Milwaukee Causal Loop Diagram
Causal Loop Diagram



In the end, there were a number of variables with five or more connections. These will become the focal areas for understanding the process of change within the community at this time. Those themes with the highest number of arrows included "availability of junk food" (shown below), "fruit and vegetable consumption", "education/awareness of healthy eating and active living", "obesity", "60 minutes of physical activity per day", "family involvement", "perceived neighborhood safety", "collaboration of partners, leaders, and residents", and "funding opportunities" 




Diagram-Availability of Junk Food
Zooming in on one part of the Causal Loop Diagram--"Availability of Junk Food"



Exercises like the one just described only tell part of the story in any neighborhood. It is important to remember, childhood obesity does not have any one cause, and is a much more complex issue than only food and activity levels. To understand the issue, we need to work together at all levels to effectively bring about the change we seek. For more information on Group Model Building or to schedule a presentation on this process please contact David Nelson at







Who We Are


The Milwaukee Childhood Obesity Prevention Project (MCOPP) is an inclusive coalition with the goal of reducing childhood obesity in Milwaukee through environmental and policy changes that promote healthy eating and active living.

Our members include leaders and staff from the eight partner agencies of the United Neighborhood Centers of Milwaukee (UNCOM), youth-serving organizations, community residents, and experts in the fields of nutrition, exercise science, physical education, public health, medicine, and urban planning.
MCOPP is funded by Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities, a national program office of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
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In This Issue
Group Model Building
Upcoming MCOPP Meeting
Local Information, Opportunities, and Events
Upcoming MCOPP Leadership Team Meeting

Date and time
Tuesday, June 5, 2012
12:00 - 1:30pm
Please RSVP if you plan to attend



Kosciuszko Community Center
2201 S. 7th Street in Milwaukee

For more information

Contact Sarah O'Connor

Local Information, Opportunities, and Events


Wisconsin Obesity Prevention Summit

Monday, June 11th from 8:30am-4:30pm at the Kalahari Resort in Wisconsin Dells.

Click here to register. A few notes:

  • The Pre-Conference Obesity Summit is free
  • When you sign up, select the pre-conference June 11th option
  • Continue through the page that asks if you have a PO number--you will not be charged if you are only attending on June 11th
  • If you are interested, act quickly--limited spaces are available.


2012 Lakefront Marathon Kids Run

Click here for more information about the 2012 Lakefront Kids Run.


Badgerland Striders 2012 Calendar of Youth Run/Walk Events

Click here for information about youth and family running and walking opportunities throughout 2012.


Get Wheelin' in Westlawn

The Westlawn Partnership for a Healthier Environment is pleased to offer FREE Bicycle Tune-Ups for the Westlawn Community the following Fridays from 3-6pm: June 1, July 6, August 3, and September 7. Click here for more information.


Take Action Against Hunger in Our Community

Responding to Hunger: Creating Local Solutions

Sunday, June 3rd from 2-5pm at Marquette University.

Click here for more information.

Relevant Information 


Recommendations and Reports


The Weight of the Nation

Confronting America's Obesity Epidemic


Let's Move Gardening Guide

Twinkies, Tomatoes, and Tomatillos: A Quantitative Assessment of Healthy Food Accessibility in Milwaukee County

Summary of recommended community strategies and measurements to prevent obesity in the United States.


Links for more information about healthy eating and active living


Spend Smart. Eat Smart: Ideas, resources, and recipes to help you eat healthy for less.



Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010


Grant Opportunities

Wells Fargo and National Fish & Wildlife Foundation Launch New Grant Program to Support Community Sustainability and Environmental Stewardship Projects

Grants ranging up to $250,000 will be awarded to nonprofit, governmental, and educational organizations for projects that link economic development and community well-being to the stewardship and health of the environment
Posted on May 17, 2012
Deadline: July 2, 2012 (Pre-proposals)


Graffiti Hurts Accepting Grant Proposals for Graffiti Prevention and Education Projects
Grants of $2,500 as well as paint products are available for community-based projects to prevent and remove graffiti and increase awareness of graffiti prevention.
osted on May 18, 2012
Deadline: June 15, 2012


Milwaukee Childhood Obesity Prevention Project

United Neighborhood Centers of Milwaukee

710 N. Plankinton Ave. Suite 740

Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53203