Investing in Kentucky’s Future initiative aims to improve children’s health

Last updated: July 24. 2013 10:11AM - 1190 Views

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Perry County Wellness Coalition selected for grant funding

The Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky has chosen Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky’s Perry County Wellness Coalition, as one of seven community partners for the new Investing in Kentucky’s Future (IKF) initiative. Rural and urban grantees are geographically representative of the entire Commonwealth. This five-year, $3 million program seeks to test innovative ways to reduce chronic disease risks for school aged children.

“The health of our next generation is at stake,” said Susan Zepeda, CEO and President of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky. “Our goal is to help communities make positive changes that will help our children start and sustain healthy habits for a lifetime. Regardless of the challenges, we want to help communities find new pathways to positive solutions.”

The initial grant for Perry County Wellness Coalition is $32,558 which includes funding for planning, training and technical assistance so community groups can determine the most promising strategies to launch effective, sustainable models to improve children’s health.

“We’ve been working for several years to improve the menu and encourage better eating habits in and out of school,” said Linda Campbell, Child Nutrition Director at Perry County Schools. “It’s not as easy as changing a menu or just buying whole wheat bread. We’re changing a culture, and that’s not a simple thing. Working together, as a community, we can really start to make a difference. This grant from the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky allows us to take the next steps toward helping our kids to become healthier.”

Perry County Wellness Coalition will collect and analyze local health data then develop ideas and implement solutions to help our children avoid chronic diseases and grow to be healthy, thriving adults.

Chronic diseases are diseases that last over time, decrease quality of life and increase the risk of early death. They include conditions like cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Substance abuse and some mental illnesses are also chronic. These chronic diseases occur at higher rates in Kentucky than in surrounding states. National statistics reveal Kentucky’s children are at greater risk than the national average in several chronic disease factors:

· Almost four in ten (37%) between the ages of 10 and 17 are overweight or obese.

· One in every 400 children and adolescents either has or will be diagnosed with diabetes.

· More than one in four (26%) high school students smoke cigarettes.

· When children grow into adulthood, Kentucky is above the national average in deaths from heart disease, cancer and stroke.

The Foundation relies on local leaders to identify critical health needs and helps focus investments on how best to engage the community in order to have the biggest impact.

“This is the first step in our multi-year approach which will lead to implementation of permanent solutions for healthier communities,” concluded Zepeda. “We believe that by working together on the local level, civic leaders with vision can develop innovative strategies to improve the health of our children.”

Along with Perry County Wellness Coalition, other partners chosen for the IKF initiative include:

· Clinton County School District

· Fitness for Life Around Grant County (FFLAG)

· Green River Area Development District (GRADD)

· Kentucky Heart Foundation, Inc.

· Kentucky River Community Care, Inc.

· Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness

More than 50 interested organizations responded to the Foundation’s Request for Proposals in October, 2012, by submitting letters of intent. Of those, 22 were invited to submit a full proposal. The Foundation’s Board of Directors approved funding for seven.

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