American Heart Association & Johnson County Department of Health & Environment receives $100,000 Kansas Health Foundation healthy living grant
KANSAS CITY (May 15, 2014) – The American Heart Association (AHA) in partnership with the Johnson County Department of Health & Environment (JCDHE) has been awarded a $100,000 healthy living grant from the Kansas Health Foundation. The American Heart Association is one of 22 new grantees in the state to receive healthy living grant funding. The two organizations, plan to leverage resources and expertise to support early childhood programs in improving nutrition, physical activity, screen time and infant feeding policies and practices.
“We have an opportunity to impact over 180 childcare centers and almost 18,000 children in Johnson County with these resources,” said Renee Bryant, community wellness coordinator, Johnson County Department of Health and Environment. “Our centers will receive scholarships to attend trainings on creating an environment that supports healthy lifestyles as well as receiving continuing education credit for licensing.”
Early Care and Education Wellness in Johnson County (ECEW-JC) is a joint initiative which focuses on healthy eating and active living and targets an underserved population in obesity prevention – children ages five and under, and the early childhood programs that provide many of their meals and snacks. The new healthy living grant will be used to target the early childhood programs that have already committed to assessing their current policies and practices, leveraging the assessment tool in use in neighboring Wyandotte County as part of Healthy Way to Grow (HWTG), a joint program of the AHA and Nemours with inaugural funding by the William G. McGowan Charitable Fund.
“Early childhood programs are an important setting to help children develop lifelong healthy habits,” said Rhonda Erpelding, child care specialist, American Heart Association. “We are excited to work with programs in Johnson County and support strong nutrition and physical activity policies and practices in these settings.”
Funding for healthy living initiatives represents one way the Kansas Health Foundation seeks to address issues of tobacco use and obesity in Kansas. Grants were specifically targeted toward programs and initiatives supporting healthy eating, active living and tobacco prevention. Smoking and obesity remain the leading causes of preventable death and illness in the state, and combine to cost Kansas more than $2 billion annually in unnecessary health care costs.
“Providing funding to organizations poised to make an impact on major health issues like obesity and tobacco use is crucial to our work and the overall health landscape in Kansas,” said Jeff Willett, vice president for programs at the Kansas Health Foundation. “These are health problems that affect the lives of many Kansans, and are increasingly concentrated among Kansans of lower socioeconomic status, further compounding health and economic disparities in our state.”
The first year of the joint early childhood program initiative in Johnson County will focus on nutrition education and food and beverage policies and practices. Year two of the initiative will expand the assessment and trainings to include physical activity and screen time policies and practices, culminating in the creation of a child care center wellness policy that reflects assessment results and trainings over the course of the two years.
For more information about the American Heart Association‘s efforts or to learn how you can participate, please visit contact Rhonda Erpelding at 214-706-2248 or Rhonda.Erpelding@heart.org.
All grantees—including universities, nonprofit organizations, state agencies and municipalities—received funding through a competitive application process, with individual grant awards of up to $100,000. In total, the Kansas Health Foundation provided approximately $2 million in healthy living grants across the 22 grantees. Initiatives funded emphasized strategies intended to lead to implementation of policy, systems and environmental interventions with the potential to impact a broad population. Through this type of grant making, the Foundation opens up to Kansans who have the experience, know-how and inspiration to tackle some of the toughest issues facing public health today and provides the funding needed to see their mission accomplished.
Ciara O’Brien Murray, Communications Director
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