Fighting childhood obesity and child undernourishment in the five northern counties will require energetic and dedicated parents, educators, health care professionals and more to work together to pursue strategies that will yield potentially life-changing results.
On April 26, the Panhandle Health District (PHD) will offer an opportunity for such people to meet and apply for small grants to help their local schools achieve local wellness goals. All K-12 schools in northern Idaho are eligible for the grants. Projects proposed are required to have three or more parents involved and improve the school nutrition and/or physical activity environment.
Similar grants awarded throughout the state have bought jump ropes for one school and helped with a garden program at another.
The April 26th gathering also will launch the Action for Healthy Kids regional team. Action for Healthy Kids is a national non-profit volunteer network that works with schools to steer children toward lifestyles that include good nutrition and physical activity.
Action for Healthy Kids provides resources, expertise and programs. Regional teams provide person-power and local connections. Lisa Kolenda, PHD's Physical Activity and Nutrition program coordinator, will explain the program and answer questions at the gathering.
Of children in Idaho ages 10 to 17, nearly 26 percent are overweight or obese, according to the 2007 National Survey of Children's Health. Of children in Idaho ages 2 to 5, 29 percent are overweight or obese, according to the same study.
All public schools in the nation are required to have goals for nutrition education and activities to promote student wellness, nutrition guidelines for food available at school, a plan for measuring success and community involvement in the school wellness movement.
The Action for Healthy Kids gathering and grant opportunity meeting will run 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., Monday, April 26, at PHD's Hayden office, 8500 N. Atlas Rd. Attendance is free but registration is requested by April 19. Call Lisa Kolenda at 415-5284 to register.