Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health awards more than $150,000 in grants to fight obesity
~ Grants up to $20,000 aimed at promoting wellness among Idaho children ~
The Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health will award $157,281 in grants to programs aimed at reversing the obesity epidemic among children in Idaho.
The grants to nine organizations range from $12,000 to $20,000 and include funding for programs dedicated to supporting community gardens and helping obese children through intensive lifestyle changes.
“We received so many worthy applications that it was hard to choose where to allocate the funds,” said Ray Flachbart, Chairman of the Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health and President and CEO of Blue Cross of Idaho. “These programs share our dedication to improving health in Idaho and reversing the trend of childhood obesity.”
The Foundation only considered applications from Idaho-based organizations and gave special consideration to innovative programs and those targeting low-income children. The Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health will officially award the grants at a presentation on the Blue Cross of Idaho Campus on Friday, January 20.
Grant recipients and programs:
Boise Parks and Recreation: Boise
Community Garden Centers: This project is a partnership between Boise Parks & Recreation and the Boise Urban Garden School (BUGS) to build community gardens and provide nutrition education targeting low-income children who participate in free after-school programs at three elementary school community centers (Whitney, Grace Jordan, and Morley Nelson schools) and one low-income apartment complex (Northwest Pointe). Research shows that children who are able to dig in the soil, plant a seed, and watch it grow are more likely to discover that they are excited to eat the fruits of their labor and understand the science behind a sprouting seed or photosynthesis.
Heritage Charter School: Caldwell
HCCS Nutrition and Wellness Program: This project will take a hands-on approach to wellness education with a special emphasis on nutrition. The HCCS project will create and implement the use of a school and community garden to introduce children to healthy food options, and incorporate the produce grown in the community garden into school lunches. Students will play an integral role in the design, maintenance, care, harvest, and use of the garden. In addition to the benefits of fresh produce, the garden project will introduce students to the rewards of hard work, environmental responsibility, and love of the outdoors.
Idaho Smart Growth: Boise – Project in North Central and South Central Idaho
Making Our Communities More Walkable for Children: This project will help several communities in North Central and South Central Idaho create walkable and bikeable communities where children are active and healthier. This project will focus on improving the infrastructure for physical activity in several communities by providing the tools and trainings needed so that the communities can overcome the barriers to creating a safe place for children to be active and create (or re-create) safe, walkable communities.
Kimberly School District: Kimberley (Twin Falls area)
Fuel the Change: This project will improve the nutrition/health education curriculum in kindergarten through eighth grade and provide more opportunities for and education about the importance of physical activity as part of a healthy lifestyle. At the elementary school, the teachers will work with the STEM Coordinator (responsible for integrating science, technology, engineering and math activities into the curriculum) to develop a research-based nutrition/health curriculum including the importance of physical activity. The physical activity segment will expand the current walking program to include more students. A simulated Oregon Trail walking path will be part of this project. At the middle school, basic cooking and gardening skills will be included in the nutrition class that is now in place. The students will produce and distribute a cook book of healthy snacks that youngsters can make.
Kootenai Health: Coeur d’ Alene
Wellness Incentive to Health (WITH): The goal of this project is to improve the health and fitness of obese teenagers in Northern Idaho through the Wellness Incentive To Health (or W.I.T.H.) program. The concept of W.I.T.H. was developed by Shawn Burke, a personal trainer and Ironman triathlete who works as a physical therapy assistant at Kootenai Health in Coeur d’Alene, ID. This grant will fund a pilot study led by Kootenai Health to determine the impacts of the 12-week program that is designed to promote health, fitness, knowledge, and self-confidence for overweight teens. This project brings together community experts in childhood health and wellness, including faculty from University of Idaho, Washington State University, North Idaho College, Lewis-Clark State College, and Coeur d’Alene school district. Web-based devices and technologies will be trialed to help teens make changes in diet and physical activity using frequent feedback, goal setting, and rewards.
Palouse Prairie School: Moscow
More Active, Healthy School Environment, and Farm to School Lunch Program: This project will decrease student’s risk of obesity by developing a more active, healthy school environment and expanding its lunch program to include more fresh fruits and vegetables and integrate it with classroom curricula. This project will specifically increase student activity levels and decrease their risk of obesity by: equipping each classroom with educational materials teachers can use to engage students in age-appropriate activity breaks; providing engaging indoor equipment to enhance physical activity and movement during the school day; developing physical activity stations within the multipurpose room for use when weather prohibits outdoor activity; upgrading the cement play area to increase use options; and, upgrading portable play equipment.
St. Luke’s Magic Valley: Twin Falls
Youth Engaged in Activities for Health (YEAH!): St. Luke’s Magic Valley will use this grant to implement the Youth Engaged in Activities for Health (YEAH!) community model. YEAH! is an eight-week program with exercise and nutrition components for overweight and obese children and their families. With the support of an energetic team, the course imparts the knowledge, skills, and confidence children need to live a healthy lifestyle, thus addressing the root causes of obesity rather than the symptoms, and empowering participants to enact healthy behavioral changes before serious co-morbidities develop.
University of Idaho: Moscow – Project is working with Coeur d’ Alene Tribe
Nutrition Environment Monitoring of Healthy Eating: This project will assess the food and nutrition environment impacting residents of the Coeur d’Alene Reservation with the goal of increasing healthy food option availability, awareness, and practice. The availability, variety, price, quality, and accessibility of healthy eating options will be measured in Coeur d’Alene stores, restaurants, and vending outlets. University of Idaho will collaborate with Tribal food leaders and youth to complete healthy eating assessments and to recommend policies and practices resulting in a healthier food system and better health outcomes.
University of Idaho Extension: Southern and Eastern Idaho (Cassia, Bannock, and Fremont Counties)
Healthy Living with Challenged Youth: This project will assist students at Cassia County Alternative High School, Bannock County Probation Intensive Supervision Program, and the Five-County Detention Center in Fremont County to establish and operate greenhouses, plant and harvest gardens, and increase fruits and vegetables in their diets. They will also reduce their consumption of soda and energy drinks. The project will also teach classes to the teens on nutrition, cooking, food preservation, gardening, and life skills in order to reach its goal of addressing multiple aspects of building healthy lives.