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Thursday, October 29, 2020

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Cenla schools get grants for wellness programs

The Rapides Foundation’s board of trustees awarded approximately $800,000 in grants to fund evidence-based physical fitness and healthy eating programs in nine Central Louisiana public school districts.

The programs will be offered immediately to students in grades K-8 in Allen, Avoyelles, Catahoula, Grant, LaSalle, Natchitoches, Rapides, Vernon and Winn parishes.

“The focus of this grant is to promote increased access to healthy eating and physical activity opportunities for young people in Central Louisiana,” said Joe Rosier, president and chief executive officer of The Rapides Foundation. “We know that one way to reach young people is in the classroom.”

Each school will offer one of two nationally recognized physical fitness and healthy eating curriculum: the Coordinated Approach to Child Health, also called CATCH, or Sports, Play & Active Recreation for Kids, which goes by the acronym SPARK.

CATCH is an evidence-based, coordinated school health program designed to promote physical activity and healthy food choices, and prevent tobacco use in children from preschool through grade 8. The program is currently being implemented in over 7,500 schools and after-school programs across the United States and Canada.

SPARK is a research-based organization dedicated to creating, implementing, and evaluating programs that promote lifelong wellness. SPARK strives to improve the health of children and adolescents by disseminating evidence-based physical activity and nutrition programs that provide curriculum, staff development, follow-up support, and equipment to teachers of Pre-K through 12th grade students.

In addition, Central Louisiana third- and fourth-graders will be taught the Student Media Awareness to Reduce Television (S.M.A.R.T.) curriculum, which is designed to motivate children to reduce their television watching and video game usage.

Schools also will use their grant money to support certification and professional development for food services staff; to implement activities that support Turnoff Week in April; and to monitor compliance of school improvement plans with their District Wellness Policy.

The grants are part of The Rapides Foundation’s Diet and Physical Activity Initiative. Earlier this year, it awarded $455,000 in planning grants to the nine Central Louisiana school districts to help them refine and improve their District Wellness Policies.
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