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HEAL Appalachia grants offered to organizations that promote kids' health

Staff Report • Jan 9, 2013 at 9:57 AM

Are you involved in a nonprofit community organization that helps kids live healthy lifestyles? Maybe your church, youth or civic group or school would like to do more to improve the health of the children it serves.

If so, your organization could be eligible for a grant through the HEAL (Healthy Eating, Active Living) Appalachia community grants program, offered jointly by Mountain States Health Alliance (MSHA) and East Tennessee State University (ETSU). The annual community grants program consists of 15 $2,000 grants and four $5,000 grants.

Deadline to apply for grants is Feb. 15. The project period is May 1, 2013, to April 30, 2014.

The purpose of this community grants program is to support new efforts or expand existing efforts to reduce childhood obesity in the local community utilizing the 5-2-1-0 message:

5 or more servings of fruits or veggies each day 2 or hours fewer of recreational screen time 1 hour or more of exercise 0 sugary drinks

“We want to encourage involvement from all types of community groups who serve children,” said Joanna Swinehart, manager of Social Responsibility and Children’s Health Advocacy for MSHA and Niswonger Children’s Hospital. “It’s very possible that child and youth programs are already providing nutrition education or physical activity within their existing programs. These programs could be enhanced with a HEAL Appalachia community grant or they could create a new program.”

What kinds of groups land these grants? Here are some examples of last year’s recipients:

Girls on the Run of Northeast Tennessee – GOTRNETN is inspiring girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum that creatively integrates running.

Jonesborough Farmers Market – Jonesborough Farmers Market farmers, a chef from Main Street Café’s chef, and South Side School’s Educare program work together to grow fresh produce in their school garden beds, then harvest and prepare fresh foods in the classroom kitchen.

Haysi High School – The Biggest Winner encourages students to meet individual fitness goals through lifetime activities, nutrition education, healthy snacks, and accountability logs.

HEAL Appalachia seeks to improve children’s health in four major aspects of life: where we learn, work, heal and worship.

“We would love to see more involvement from faith-based groups with children’s programs,” Swinehart said. “Faith is such a large part of our Southern culture, and faith-based groups with programs serving children and youth could certainly benefit from this program.”

Applicants must be located within a 21-county region of Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia to be eligible, and the projects must take place within these counties. The funded programs will include evaluations that measure improvement in physical activity and increased knowledge about the benefits of nutrition and exercise.

“Grant applications can be intimidating. We want organizations to realize that they don’t need grant experience to apply,” Swinehart said. “We’ve worked to simplify the application process, and will be offering a conference call in a couple weeks to help answer questions that applicants may have.”

Grants will be scored initially by ETSU College of Public Health students. They will narrow the applications to 40, which will then be scored and ranked by HEAL Appalachia advisory board members and other professionals in the community. The winners will be announced at the fourth annual HEAL Appalachia obesity symposium on April 17, and organizations must have someone present to win.For more information, visit www.HealAppalachia.org or email communitygrants@msha.com.

Photo ID: A boy at the Abingdon Farmer's Market holds an armload of fennel. The Abgindon Farmer's Market is a participant in Farm Fresh Kids, a previous HEAL Appalachia grant recipient.

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