St. Mary's Receives $1.3 Million Grant|
St. Mary’s Foundation received notice this week that the community will receive a Carol M. White Physical Education Grant from the United States Department of Education. The grant will allocate $450,000 in the current fiscal year and there are two additional payments scheduled. More grant specifics will not be known until St. Mary’s officials meet with the Department of Education in August. The grant will support a Healthy Kids Initiative in the Evansville Vanderburgh County School System.
St. Mary’s was one of only 70 grants awarded nationally and one of only two institutions honored in the State of Indiana. The Boys and Girls Club of Indianapolis was the other award winner.
“St. Mary’s is excited about the potential of this grant to serve the children of our community,” said Tom Lilly, St. Mary’s Senior Vice President of Foundation Operations. “We have a history of working with our local schools to find creative solutions to some of the health issues facing our children.”
The Healthy Kids Initiative will benefit six elementary schools – Harper, Hebron,
Stockwell, Stringtown, Tekoppel and Vogel – and two middle schools – McGary and Perry Heights. This comprehensive program will provide the schools with specialists in the fields of nutrition, physical education/activity and physical therapy and will offer family counseling and social services. The Healthy Kids Initiative will make exercise equipment available, as well as health monitoring equipment.
The EVSC is recognized nationally as a model of coordinated school health care for students. St. Mary’s already provides a full-time respiratory therapist and a nutritionist for the school system. St. Mary’s Mobile Dental Clinic serves thousands of EVSC school children each year. St. Mary’s also offers annual support for after-school programs, an asthma camp and on-going health education materials for EVSC children and their families, as well as for area parochial schools.
In the fall of 2008, St. Mary’s screened 6,100 children for body mass index, height, weight and blood pressure. 1,200 parents were notified that their children had abnormal blood pressure readings. While abnormal blood pressure readings are not a diagnosis, parents were asked to have their children seen by a family doctor. Forty-percent of these children were above the range of what is considered normal body mass index for their age.
“There are serious consequences for the decisions we make about our physical activity and the type of food we put into our body,” said Lilly. “Health care reform can start in our homes and families by teaching our children the value of exercise and healthy eating.”
The purpose of the Carol M. White Physical Education Program is to provide funds to local educational agencies and community-based organizations (including faith-based organizations like St. Mary’s) to initiate, expand and improve physical education programs for students in grades kindergarten through 12. The goal is to make progress toward meeting State standards for physical education by providing funds for equipment, support and the training and education of teachers and staff. In order to receive funding, each applicant must design and implement a program that clearly aligns to state standards for physical education and provides for one or more of the following elements:
Fitness education and assessment to help students understand, improve or maintain physical well-being;
Instruction in motor skills and physical activities designed to enhance the physical, mental or social and/or emotional development;
Development of, and instruction in, cognitive concepts about motor skills and physical fitness that supports healthy lifestyles;
Opportunities to develop positive social and cooperative skills through physical activity participation;
Instruction in healthy eating habits and good nutrition;
And opportunities for professional development for physical education teachers to stay abreast of current research, issues and trends in physical education.
Since the program began in 2001, the Department of Education has awarded
approximately $555 million in grants.