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PRO Wellness Center awarded nearly $2 million by PA Department of Health

Penn State Hershey PRO Wellness Center has received nearly $2 million from the Pennsylvania Department of Health to facilitate programs focused on healthy eating and exercise in 15 school districts (81 schools) across the commonwealth.

In collaboration with the Department of Health, the PRO Wellness Center will use the money to deliver grants and offer personalized technical assistance as part of the 1305 grant program.

“Obesity affects one in three children in Pennsylvania, and in an effort to reverse this trend, we can encourage and promote lifelong healthy eating and physical activity habits by implementing school health initiatives,” said Donna Kephart, executive director of the PRO Wellness Center. “We are happy to partner with the Department of Health and look forward to seeing the funded programs and policies put into place so they can begin to make a real difference.”

The 1305 Grant Program is a federal initiative, administered in the state by the Department of Health and supported by multiple state agencies. It reaches large segments of the population through school districts, early care and education centers, worksites and communities to address chronic disease risk factors and ultimately reduce obesity, diabetes and heart disease. The PRO Wellness Center has been contracted to deliver the school segment of the 1305 grant program.

The funding will be used over a five-year period in the development, coordination and administration of the grant program in schools. School districts will be selected based on state-mandated body mass index information, academic performance and free or reduced lunch status. The PRO Wellness Center will help grant awardees make data-driven decisions that will address nonacademic barriers in an effort to improve health and academic achievement and growth of students.

This initiative will build the capacity of the 15 school districts to:

  • implement policies and practices that create a supportive nutrition environment;
  • develop, implement and evaluate comprehensive school physical activity programs; and
  • identify opportunities to create or enhance community access to places for physical activity.

LEARN MORE: Read an article about how Pennsylvania schools put an earlier round of wellness-themed mini-grants to use.

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