Indiana University Health has announced a grant program aimed at fighting obesity in children. The “Strong Schools” initiative will offer funding to nearly a dozen schools for fitness equipment, learning materials and incentive programs. March 25, 2014

News Release

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Children should engage in one hour of physical activity every day, according to federal health guidelines. But a recent National Survey of Children's Health found that children fall short of that benchmark, with less than a third of 6-17 year olds participating in physical activity for even 20 minutes a day. To combat the growing issue of childhood obesity, Indiana University Health will be awarding 22 “IU Health Strong Schools” grants to elementary schools across the state designed to help boost physical activity levels while developing healthy habits at an early age.

“Ensuring a student's good health can improve attendance and educational achievement,” said Ron Stiver, senior vice president of engagement and public affairs for IU Health. “By leveraging our expertise in health and wellness, IU Health Strong Schools will support Indiana schools in improving the health of their students, staff and communities.”

Educators surveyed by IU Health reported that time, staffing and cost are major barriers to increasing physical activity. To help overcome these hurdles, IU Health Strong Schools will offer three grant options:

-Strong Schools Grants, $1,000 each, focused on student activity (18 available)

-Stronger Schools Grants, $1,500 each, focused on student and staff activity (2 available)

-Strongest Schools Grants, $3,000 each, focused on student, staff and community activity (2 available)

IU Health is working with Action for Healthy Kids- a national organization that helps schools fights childhood obesity – to offer these grants to help schools implement new, healthy programs for the 2014-2015 school year. Schools may choose to incorporate IU Health-supported programs such as Change the Play with Andrew Luck and Playworks, or they may use the grants to help pay for a variety of items including:

-New fitness equipment

-Before- or after-school physical activity programs

-Body mass index (BMI) tracking software

-Action-based learning materials or programs

-Incentive programs for students, staff and community members

-Personnel for fitness classes for staff and community walking groups.

Additionally, to encourage health and fitness within the community, schools can create and promote “shared use” agreements to make school spaces – such as gyms, playgrounds and pools – available to the public after school hours.

Schools located in any of the 15 counties that house an IU Health hospital may apply for an IU Health Strong Schools grant at the Action for Healthy Kids grant portal here: The application deadline is May 2, 2014.

Source: Indiana University Health

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