(Albany, Ky - June 14, 2018) A whole host of programs made possible through a Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky grant have helped school children in Clinton County achieve a healthier weight. The grant also has led to several new school programs, policy changes and facilities in the community that partners hope will help the children sustain healthier habits long term.
The Foundation's $400,000 grant over a five-year period to the Clinton County Healthy Hometown coalition, matched by $328,553 in local funds, is part of the Foundation's "Investing in Kentucky's Future" (IKF) initiative, now in its final year. The IKF initiative is intended to reduce the risk that today's school-aged children will develop debilitating chronic diseases as adults. The Clinton Coalition is one of seven communities that were funded through the initiative.
"We have seen positive changes in community activity and awareness of health issues," said Albany Mayor Nicky Smith, who is also Vice-Chairman of the Healthy Hometown Coalition. "I feel that our children have benefitted from improvements in healthy eating and physical activity that they will carry with them throughout their lives."
To date, the Clinton partnership has used the grant to build walking paths, playgrounds and other spaces to provide more places where children can be physically active. In addition, the Coalition has increased physical education and added programs in the schools to increase classroom movement, expanded nutrition programs, and supported policy changes to ensure increased physical activity and better nutrition for area students.
"The obesity rate in Clinton County has improved so much that we no longer qualify for a CDC grant we had been receiving for the past three years, and using collaboratively with the Healthy Hometown Coalition," said Dr. Paula Little, Assistant Superintendent of the Clinton County School District and Chair of the Clinton County Healthy Hometown Coalition. Dr. Little is also a member of the Foundation's Board of Directors.
"The Clinton County Coalition is a great example of a community coming together to identify a significant local health issue and develop a comprehensive plan to make an actual, measurable improvement," said Ben Chandler, president and CEO of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky. "A primary goal of the Foundation's IKF initiative was to strengthen local coalitions so they could address not just the issue they identified for our grant, but additional health issues over time. In addition, we'll be taking what Clinton County and the other six IKF grantee communities have learned and sharing it all over the state, so other local health coalitions can implement in their own areas what has proven successful here."
The Foundation said it would create a video and other materials that can be shared across the Commonwealth at the close of the initiative.
"We're also connecting the local leaders, such as Mayor Smith and Assistant Superintendent Little, in IKF grantee communities with motivated leaders in other areas of Kentucky who want to replicate the achievements in Clinton County," Chandler said.
Through its IKF initiative, the Foundation has invested $3 million in seven Kentucky communities over a five-year period. The communities were selected based on the presence of strong cross-sectoral collaboration of civic leaders committed to improving local health. Each coalition chose the issue they wanted to address and provided a matching grant. Six of the grantees, including Clinton County, chose childhood obesity prevention as their focus. The seventh coalition chose to address Adverse Childhood Experiences, or ACEs. The Foundation provided funding for a planning period, during which each coalition developed a business plan to address their chosen issue. In addition, the Foundation provided training and technical assistance throughout the grant period.
Here are some of the specific accomplishments to date under the grant in Clinton County:
• Built a child and a toddler playground, as well as walking trails, a multipurpose field, volleyball court and batting cages at Mountain View Park
• Built a walking path at Albany Elementary, another path from the middle school to Mountain View Park
• Created the "Bus Stop Café" to bring free, healthy meals to students over the summer
• Offered students nutritious meals for the weekends through a "Healthy Backpack" program
• Established "Try This!" cafeteria program to introduce new fruits and vegetables to elementary school students
• Provided free fruits and vegetables at elementary schools, mobile school breakfast carts, and a healthy supper for students who stay on campus for after-school activities
• Provided daily nutrition mini-lessons for students and quarterly parent education programs on childhood obesity
• Installed raised garden beds in schools
• Offered Plate It Up Kentucky Proud recipes at community events
• Supported the Farmer's Market and offered a Farm Fresh Friday program at schools
• Added 30 minutes of daily physical education for all children in grades 5 through 8
• Implemented the Take 10! classroom-based physical activity program and the SPARK program for PE teachers
• Added walking clubs in school gymnasiums before school
• Established a high school fitness buddies mentoring program for elementary students
• Added physical activity breaks for students staying after school
• Obtained a Safe Routes to School grant
• Offered quarterly family fitness nights
School Policy Changes
• Implemented a shared use agreement to allow neighbors to use school fitness equipment when classes are not in session
• Adopted a policy requiring healthy snacks at park concession stands
• Changed the park policy to add extra hours and improve safety
• Prohibited the sale of high-fat, high-calorie snacks to students at school
• Eliminated deep fat fryers in the school cafeteria
• Established school-based health clinics in partnership with the Cumberland Family Medical Center
• Actively engaged youth on the Coalition
Chandler also said that the training provided by the Foundation, in areas such as business plan development, evaluation and results-based accountability, sustainability planning, policy development, social marketing, school wellness policies and youth engagement, have strengthened the coalitions' skills so they can address additional health issues successfully in the future.
The Foundation will conduct a final evaluation of the IKF initiative beginning later this year, assessing not only the above accomplishments but also the extent to which the grants led to broader community engagement, a stronger coalition and the ability to leverage Foundation funding for new and enhanced programs. That report, the above-mentioned video and other materials will be shared publicly.
"The Foundation designed these grants to create lasting change," Chandler said. "To achieve that goal, we emphasized that the plans had to include the enactment of policies that make the healthier choice the easier choice and, for the obesity-prevention grantees' plans, building community spaces to spur and reinforce the habit of moving around more often. While we won't necessarily see changes of obesity rates in every community during the term of the grant, we do expect to see an increase in the exercise and dietary behaviors that research shows will lead to better health down the line."
About the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky
Funded by an endowment, the mission of the nonpartisan Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky is to address the unmet health needs of Kentuckians by developing and influencing policy, improving access to care, reducing health risks and disparities, and promoting health equity. Since the Foundation opened its doors in 2001, it has invested more than $27 million in health policy research, advocacy, and demonstration project grants across the Commonwealth Follow the Foundation on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, and visit our website at www.healthy-ky.org.
Bonnie J. Hackbarth