New initiative to help make schools, communities, workplaces healthier
The Rapides Foundation wants Central Louisiana to be a place where young people and adults have the opportunity to eat healthy foods and engage in increased physical activity on a daily basis. We envision a community where it's easier to choose a banana over a burger, and where walking and other forms of physical activity are commonplace.
Our Diet and Physical Activity Initiative is focusing on three areas: in schools, in workplaces and in entire communities. Since our launch, the nine school districts in Central Louisiana have been improving their wellness policies and plan to attend an institute next month to get details on school interventions that they can implement next school year. Community organizations, meanwhile, will attend a workshop in June to learn how to apply for grant opportunities in connection with this new initiative. We also are identifying potential partners for worksite programs in Central Louisiana.
Schools to Adpot New Wellness Policies This Fall
Central Louisiana's nine school districts will take part in a School Health Institute on June 3 to find out ways to increase healthy eating and physical activity opportunities in their schools. "The Foundation is committed to improving diet and physical activity as a pathway to improved health. We believe schools must play an essential role in these improvements," said Joe Rosier, president and CEO of The Rapides Foundation.
School districts first gathered Dec. 5 at the Foundation's Central Louisiana School Wellness Summit. There, district teams heard results from the state's report card on physical activity, which shows our young people are not as active as they should be. Teams learned they can make public school healthier by becoming involved in the Foundation's initiative.
The Foundation has since awarded $455,000 in planning grants to the nine school districts. As a result, 91 schools participated in a School Health Index assessment and developed school improvement plans. The nine districts are using these results to refine and improve their District Wellness Policies. They will submit these policies to the Foundation and begin looking at specific interventions to use in parish schools.
The School Health Institute in June will give teams a chance to witness examples of promising strategies for increasing healthy eating and physical activity opportunities in Central Louisiana schools. Presentations and resources will cover a host of approaches to activities like classroom instruction, staff wellness programs, parental involvement, and promotional campaigns, including:
Healthy Lifestyle Choices (www.hlconline.org)
Nutrition Across the Curriculum (http://www.doe.state.la.us/lde/nutrition/1667.html)
Turnoff Week (www.screentime.org)
Action for Healthy Kids - Wellness Tracker Tool (www.actionforhealthykids.org)