2010-09-02 / Local & State

Active School Grant Awarded

Forty Pennsylvania elementary schools have been selected to receive an Active Schools grant for the 2010-11 school year, Secretary of Health Everett James announced last Wednesday. Southern Fulton Elementary was one of the lucky recipients.

“All children need 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day to build strong bones and healthy hearts,” said James. “By implementing evidence-based programs that get every child active for 30 minutes a day, participating schools are making the health of children a top priority. The schools are also working with parents and communities to give kids more opportunities to be active after school and on weekends.”

The Active Schools Grant Program is designd to increase physical activity during the school day and allows schools to implement evidence-based physical activity programs. The program helped more than 16,500 middle schools tudents in 26 counties in its first year. In its second year, it will serve more than 17,000 elementary students.

Body Mass Index, or BMI, date submitted by the schools to the Department of Health indicates 15.22 percent of students in grades K- 6 are overweight and another 16.6 percent are obese, which means just under 32 percent of those students are either overweight or obese. This rate declined slightly from the previous year, marking the first decline in BMI in many years.

“While any improvement in BMI is welcome, there remains much more that parents, schools, health providers, and local communities can do to encourage children to adopt active lifestyles,” said James. “This is an important team effort that will pay lifelong dividends for children.”

Funding for Active Schools is made available through a public-private partnership between the departments of Health and Education and six foundations and health insurers. Schools receive a $5,000 grant from the Department of Health’s federal Preventative Health and Health Services Block Grant and an additional $10,000 from a match-funding organization in their region.

Participating partners include Independence Blue Cross, Highmark Foundation’s Healthy High 5 Initiative, Capital Blue Cross, Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania’s Blue Ribbon Foundation, the UPMC Health Plan and United Healthcare.

The Active Schools Grant Program implements evidence based physical activity programs that meet the federal guildelines of moderate to vigorous daily physical activity. Some activities include brisk walking, playing tag, jumping rope, playing soccer or swimming.

Research by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, shows physically active children perform better in school and have higher attendance rates.

Return to top