HEAL Appalachia announces winners of two '5210' community grants


JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. – Thanks to HEAL Appalachia, the students at St. Mary’s Catholic School in Johnson City and the kids at Smart Beginnings Wythe Bland in Wytheville, Va., will be learning more about healthy lifestyles.

With the help of funding from Mountain States Health Alliance (MSHA) and United Way Virginia Highlands, HEAL (Healthy Eating Active Living) Appalachia is awarding two community grants, each in the amount of $5,210, to these two community groups. Using 5-2-1-0 as the monetary total is not arbitrary; it is HEAL Appalachia’s daily call to action:

5 or more servings of fruits or vegetables

2 hours or less of recreational screen time

1 hour or more of vigorous exercise

0 sugary drinks, and more water and low-fat milk

Practiced daily, 5-2-1-0 adds up to a healthy lifestyle. HEAL Appalachia wants to encourage more children in Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia to learn about 5-2-1-0 through these exciting community grant programs.

The program at St. Mary’s Catholic School will be spearheaded by its Wellness Council and will focus on several environmental changes throughout the school to cultivate a culture of health. The environmental changes include a redesign of the school cafeteria menu to promote healthful foods that have been taste-tested and approved by its students, a school-based garden, reduction of screen time and additional support of its Kids Run the Nation student running program.

Smart Beginnings Wythe Bland also has proposed a program that encourages a healthier learning environment by promoting active play, reducing screen time, limiting sugared drinks and candy and making fresh fruits and vegetables available for both Smart Beginnings students and staff. Smart Beginnings plans on partnering with its local farmers’ market to provide workshops on container gardening and preparing healthy foods for its students and their parents.

“These two programs stood out because they focused evenly on each of the 5-2-1-0 components with a comprehensive approach that included health education and policy change for overall environmental change,” said HEAL Appalachia spokesperson Joanna Swinehart. “The programs had solid methods for measuring the success of their programs and demonstrated that outcomes could be sustained after the initial implementation.

“Our goal is to provide seed money for organizations to implement programs that work within their own unique environments and can motivate positive change in the long term. The St. Mary’s School and Smart Beginnings programs both indicated they could do this with the available funding.”

In April, HEAL Appalachia awarded 19 organizations funding in the amounts of $2,000 or $5,000each. The awards were made in April at the annual HEAL Appalachia Symposium, which highlights regional and national efforts that have been successful in educating and promoting programs to reduce childhood obesity.

Mountain States Health Alliance and United Way Virginia Highlands jointly announced the funding opportunity for the additional two $5,210 grants at the symposium. The focus of the HEAL Appalachia Community Grant program is to inspire, promote and create models for successful grassroots programs that promote the healthy eating and active living tenets that are central to HEAL Appalachia’s mission to wane the epidemic of childhood obesity in Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia.

“The 5-2-1-0 program is a clear and simple message that represents some of the most important steps families can take to prevent childhood obesity,” said Travis Staton, CEO for United Way Virginia Highlands. “Through this joint partnership with Mountain States Health Alliance and HEAL Appalachia, we are working more collaboratively in our efforts to reduce childhood obesity across Southwest Virginia.”

For more information about HEAL Appalachia, visit www.healappalachia.com.

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