MINNEAPOLIS, Dec. 01 /CSRwire/ -
Champions for Healthy Kids(SM), a grant program introduced three years ago to encourage healthy eating choices and active lifestyles in kids, is now accepting grant applications for 2006. The opportunity is open to schools and community groups with innovative programs aimed at improving the nutrition and activity habits of young people. The application can be found online at www.generalmills.com, and the entry deadline is Feb. 1, 2006.
"Champions for Healthy Kids promotes the type of activities the American Dietetic Association Foundation believes hold the greatest potential to have a positive, lasting impact on young people's nutrition and physical activity," said Registered Dietitian Neva Cochran, Chair-Elect of the American Dietetic Association Foundation. "Kids are being introduced to a greater variety of healthy food choices, and they're learning why it's important to be physically active."
Over the past three years, more than 100,000 kids across the country have learned how to lead a balanced and active lifestyle through Champions for Healthy Kids -- a partnership of the General Mills Foundation, the American Dietetic Association Foundation and the President's Challenge. And it's working, one Champions grant at a time.
Starting Something Big
Jason Langheier of the Harvard School of Public Health, and Founder of the Fitness Forward Foundation, launched "Coach K Drive 2 Fitness" in Durham, N.C., to teach healthy lifestyle behaviors to 21,000 elementary and middle school students.
The program stemmed from Langheier's concerns about the growing epidemic of overweight children, the mental health of today's youth and preventing chronic illness.
His program motivates kids by awarding points for limiting video game and television time, being physically active, eating fruits and vegetables, and getting enough sleep. Rewards during the program include chances to win free karate lessons, roller skating passes, and even the chance to attend a Duke University basketball banquet.
"Rewards don't last forever," said Langheier. "We use them to get kids' attention, and we work hard to hold it long enough for them to get into the habit of making good lifestyle choices. The science validating the importance of the recommended Drive 2 Fitness behaviors is solid, and as we learn more, we'll continue to make the program even better."
The Champions grant helped give this startup initiative credibility and financial stability as it launched its pilot program.
Using Culture as a Cornerstone of Fitness
Several years ago, the Native American Health Services called for education initiatives aimed at parents and preschool children to help prevent obesity in Native American children and adults. With the help of a $10,000 Champions grant, the Osage Nation Head Start program answered that call with an expanded Native American dance program for
three- to five-year-olds and their parents. Physical, expressive and powerful, traditional dance has a long history in Native American culture.
As the program took root, it became the center's most in-demand daily event. Overweight and sedentary children found it fun to be active again. Kids took pride in showing their parents what they learned. Tradition is taught as a way to lead a healthier life. With the Champions grant, the program built a compact disc library of Native American music to use in their expanded dance program.
In addition, Osage Nation Head Start's cafeteria has been declared a "no-fry zone," and the program is working with a nutritionist to expand their fruit and vegetable selection and plan more nutritious menus.
Making a Difference
Since its inception in 2002, Champions for Healthy Kids has invested more than $6 million in youth nutrition and fitness programs that have served more than 100,000 children across the United States. And it is paying off with big results. All of the programs that have received a Champions grant continue to operate today, and many groups reported that they received another grant because of the Champions Grant program.
Each year, the Champions Grant Program awards 50 community groups and schools with $10,000 grants that support innovative programs to help children develop positive, lifelong nutrition and physical fitness habits. The program supports the work of innovative nutrition and fitness programs developed by grassroots, not-for-profit organizations who serve children and teenagers.
If your group or a group you know has an idea for improving the nutrition and fitness of our nation's youth, the General Mills Champions Grant program wants to hear from you. Visit http://www.generalmills.com/corporate/commitment/champions.aspx for an application. In addition, the site features model nutrition and physical activity programs that can be easily adapted.
About General Mills
General Mills is a leading global manufacturer and marketer of consumer foods products, with annual worldwide net sales of $12.5 billion. Its global brand portfolio includes Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, Green Giant, Haagen-Dazs, Old El Paso, Bugles and more. It also has more than 100 U.S. consumer brands, more than 30 of which generate annual retail sales in excess of $100 million. Included in the U.S.
portfolio are some of the nation's most popular brands including Cheerios, Wheaties and other Big G cereal brands; Yoplait and Colombo yogurts; Betty Crocker desserts and dinner mixes; Betty Crocker and Nature Valley snacks; Totino's frozen pizza and snacks; and Progresso ready-to-serve soups. General Mills also is a leader in the bakeries and foodservice business.
About The American Dietetic Association Foundation
The American Dietetic Association Foundation is the philanthropic arm of ADA. It is a 501(c)(3) charity devoted exclusively to nutrition and dietetics. The Foundation funds scholarships and awards, education and research projects, and ADA strategic initiatives that promote optimal nutrition health and well-being of the public. It is the largest provider of scholarships and awards in the field of dietetics.
About the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports
The President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports (PCPFS) serves as a catalyst to promote, encourage and motivate Americans of all ages to become and stay physically active, fit, and healthy. The President's Challenge Physical Activity and Fitness Awards Program (the President's Challenge), a long-standing program of the PCPFS, motivates more than 5 million youth each year to be physically fit and active and awards them presidential recognition for their commitment.
Editors Note: For photos, additional Champions For Healthy Kids success stories, or for programs in your community, please contact Kirstie Foster at 763-764-4347.
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