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West Virginia awards $60,000 to improve children’s health

June 05, 2006

CHARLESTON, W.Va. _Eleven county school systems have been awarded a total of $60,000 to fund pilot programs to improve the health and wellness of schoolchildren.  

Boone, Marshall, Marion, Mercer, Monongalia, Raleigh, Randolph, Ritchie, Taylor, Webster and Wood counties received $5,000 each. The grants are being funded by the West Virginia Department of Education, along with the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources’ Office of Healthy Lifestyles and the West Virginia Medical Foundation.  

The grants were awarded Monday at the Healthy West Virginia Summit in Charleston.  

The projects vary from county-to-county. Marshall County, for example, plans to pilot a comprehensive wellness program that incorporates health and wellness in every subject at Washington Lands Elementary School beginning this fall.  

Webster County’s plan includes implementing a staff wellness program, involving the community in health/safety education and activities and referring students for physical activity and nutritional problems.  

Mercer County plans to conduct a wellness seminar for county teachers, while Raleigh County will sponsor a wellness summit.  

Ritchie County is planning a countywide health fair, which will include various tests by health care professionals and educators.  

Randolph County’s Footsteps for Health will encourage students to participate in a walking program at their schools.  

“Childhood obesity has become an epidemic in West Virginia and across the country,” said State Superintendent Steve Paine. “These grants help our schools teach healthier lifestyles and good nutrition.”  

The projects embrace the efforts of the state Board of Education to improve the health and wellness of West Virginia’s youth. The board in April issued a position statement, placing a priority on good health and reducing childhood obesity in West Virginia.  

The board also recommended guidelines for counties to use in developing their own wellness policies by this fall. The guidelines address nutrition, physical activity and health education.

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