The Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky has selected seven (7) rural and urban communities throughout the Commonwealth for funding through its new Investing in Kentucky’s Future (IKF) initiative. This five-year, $3 million program seeks to test innovative ways to reduce risks of chronic disease for today’s school-aged children as they grow into adults.
“The health of our next generation is at stake,” said Susan Zepeda, CEO and President of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky. “Our goal is to help communities make positive changes in policies and service access that will help our children grow into healthy, productive adults. Regardless of the challenges, we want to help communities find new pathways to positive solutions.”
These initial grants include funding for planning, along with training and technical assistance, so community groups can determine the most promising strategies to launch effective, sustainable models to improve children’s health. Communities chosen for the IKF initiative include:
· Clinton County School District
· Fitness for Life Around Grant County (FFLAG)
· Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky (Perry County Wellness Coalition)
· Green River Area Development District (Partnership for a Healthy McLean County)
· Kentucky Heart Foundation, Inc. (Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities, Ashland)
· Kentucky River Community Care, Inc. (Breathitt County)
· Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness
Chronic diseases are diseases that last over time, decrease quality of life and increase the risk of early death. They include conditions like cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Substance abuse and some mental illnesses are also chronic. These chronic diseases occur at higher rates in Kentucky than in surrounding states. National statistics reveal Kentucky’s children are at greater risk than the national average in several chronic disease factors:
· Almost four in ten (37%) between the ages of 10 and 17 are overweight or obese.
· One in every 400 children and adolescents either has or will be diagnosed with diabetes.
· More than one in four (26%) high school students smoke cigarettes.
· When children grow into adulthood, Kentucky is above the national average in deaths from heart disease, cancer and stroke.
The Foundation relies on local leaders to identify critical health needs and helps focus investments on how best to engage the community in order to have the biggest impact.
“This is the first step in our multi-year approach which will lead to implementation of permanent solutions for healthier communities,” concluded Zepeda. “We believe that by working together on the local level, civic leaders with vision can develop innovative strategies to improve the health of our children.”
More than 50 interested organizations responded to the Foundation’s Request for Proposals in October, 2012, by submitting letters of intent. Of those, 22 were invited to submit a full proposal.
The Foundation’s Board of Directors approved funding for seven.
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