Sunday, March 26, 2023

May 2009 E-Newsletter

May 2009 E-Newsletter

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 (
Nutrition Across the Curriculum (
Turnoff Week (
Action for Healthy Kids - Wellness Tracker Tool (

Cenla Communities Become Involved

On June 1, the Foundation will release its Request for Proposals for the community component of its Diet and Physical Activity Initiative. Interested applicants are attending a workshop that day to find out how to apply. These grant opportunities stem from a series of audits held across Central Louisiana to better understand the needs about improvements for access to healthy eating and physical activity.

Earlier this year the Foundation sponsored a community forum to let organizations and interested residents learn more about the initiative and find out ways to get involved in making their communities healthier.

From those audits and talks with Central Louisiana communities, sports medicine expert Michael Brunet observed some common problems when it comes to health and nutrition in Cenla. Parents are concerned about the health of their family and their children, but they don't take very good care of themselves. What this does is send mixed signals to the children. "They are not being positive role models," he said, noting that programs that work the best are those that focus on the entire family.

As Central Louisiana communities take the lead in helping their residents lead healthy lifestyles, Brunet reminded everyone that change does not happen overnight. "If you're going to make a lifestyle change, it has to be in small increments because there's a time period where you have to get used to your new habits."

The good news is, success is achievable.

At a Glance: Diet and Physical Activity Initiative

  • Goals are to create and improve opportunities for healthy eating and increased physical activity for adults and youth in The Rapides Foundation service area. 
  • Components include improving healthy eating and physical activity in schools, workplaces and through community-based efforts. The Initiative will support creation and refinement of organizational and governmental policies and practice to sustain these improvements. 
  • Working with nine school districts in Central Louisiana to support strengthening of district Wellness Policies. The new and improved policies will act as the framework for making changes to the school environment, including enhancing programs around nutrition and physical activity for students, staff and parents. 
  • More than $450,000 in grant funding awarded since its launch in December 2008. 
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