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Local health organizations hope to spread healthy behaviors to the community after piloting a program with one group of students.
Students in the Panther Place after-school program in Elizabethtown Independent Schools are participating in the program that’s focused on nutrition and fitness thanks to a grant obtained by Hardin Memorial Health and Lincoln Trail District Health Department. Hardin County Hands-On Nutrition, Outreach & Recreation will educate children in grades first through fifth and their families on healthy eating habits and physical activity, and will track their progress in reaching fitness goals and learning healthy habits.
Officials at the health department and HMH wanted to address the epidemic of childhood obesity, so they pursued a $50,000 grant from Passport Health Plan’s Improved Health Outcomes Program. The health department already worked with students on fitness at the after-school program, so it was a good place to test the program, said Stefanie Goff, director of community planning at the health department.
Along with the education piece that includes demonstrations of healthy meals, the program will implement features such as improvements to a walking trail and a community garden. Students will use iPods in the program, either for music or to log their progress, and they can receive them for personal use upon completion of the program.
HMH spokeswoman Michelle Murphy said finding time for exercise and choosing healthy foods can be difficult.
“I think it’s just our lifestyle. Our lifestyle has changed,” Murphy said.
The program also will include support from other agencies, such as the city of Elizabethtown and the Central Kentucky Community Foundation, Goff said.
If the program is successful, she hopes to replicate it at other schools in the health department’s district.
“We are very excited,” she said. “We are looking forward to this.”
About 75 students attend Panther Place, director Kathy Francis said. Francis learned the HONORS program would be implemented a couple weeks ago.
“We’re just really thrilled because, of course, we’re on a tight budget,” she said.
Kelly Cantrall can be reached at 270-505-1747 or email@example.com.