LOUISVILLE, Ky (June 13, 2016) — The Perry County Wellness Coalition’s three-year plan to encourage fitness and better nutrition in school-age children has obtained financial support from the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky. The multi-year initiative, Kids on the Move!, will receive a first-year award of $144,450 from the Foundation, matched by $124,944 from the community, to increase access to physical activity and provide healthier food options and nutrition education.
“Our children are the most valuable resource we have,” said Gerry Roll, executive director of the Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky, which is serving as fiscal agent for the Wellness Coalition. “It’s the best investment we can make as a community partner.”
The health coalition will work with local schools to implement physical activity and nutrition policy changes, establish collaboration with the local farmers’ markets for a strong farm-to-school component, and coordinate with other community agencies to create a lasting and collective impact in the Perry County area. The project also will implement school-based, best-practices nutrition and exercise programs, such as the SPARK curriculum, GoNoodle, Fuel Up to Play 60 and Go H2O. This will complement community strategies, including support for local farmers’ markets, community gardens, summer feeding programs, and a “Farmacy” program to increase the purchase of healthier produce at farmers’ markets and local grocery stores, among other changes that will be coordinated by the different agencies participating in the coalition.
Appalachian Regional Healthcare (ARH) will serve as the administrative hub for the coalition, providing leadership and sharing its expertise in promoting community health. Hazard ARH Community CEO Dan Stone said, “Hazard ARH is certainly excited and looking forward to the opportunity to work with our schools and encourage our students to be more active and improve their nutritional habits. We have already begun these efforts by providing fitness fairs and health screenings to over 20 schools in our service area and reaching a little more than 2,500 middle school and high school age kids this year alone.”
The Perry County Wellness Coalition joins six communities around Kentucky that have been approved for funding under the Foundation’s “Investing in Kentucky’s Future” initiative. The Foundation is investing $3 million over a five-year period to fund communities working to improve the health of their school-aged children through this initiative.
“The work of the Perry County Wellness Coalition fits well into the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky’s ‘Investing in Kentucky’s Future Initiative,’ which aims to reduce chronic disease risk factors for today’s school-aged children so they will grow into healthier adults,” said Susan Zepeda, President and CEO of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky. “Our goal with this initiative is to promote policy changes and help fund demonstration programs that can lead the way to healthier behavior and better long-term health outcomes.”