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Wellmark Foundation Awards Grant Funds to Dallas County Public Health

Grant, chosen from 112 applicants, helps implement a walking school bus program in Perry to encourage active transportation for students

June 17, 2014

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PERRY, Iowa –The Wellmark Foundation recently awarded a $19,190 grant to Dallas County Public Health Department to help fund the Perry Elementary walking school bus program. The project provides an opportunity to address childhood obesity by implementing an evidence-based walking school bus program.

Perry Elementary Walking School Bus Program
A walking school bus encourages more kids to walk and bicycle to school by coordinating the trip as a group, with adult supervision provided. Funding from the Wellmark Foundation will support full implementation of a walking school bus at Perry Elementary, and provide sidewalk and infrastructure enhancements to improve safety and convenience for active transportation.

The program will launch next fall, with trained volunteers escorting children who live near the school. Parents also will be encouraged to drop children off at Weise Park, rather than in front of the school building, for a healthy dose of fun and physical activity.

"With this funding from the Wellmark Foundation, we are able to provide the youth of our community a healthy and safe option to get to and from school,” said Jennifer Walters, Community Health Coordinator for Dallas County Public Health. “This program will promote wellness in our young students, helping them achieve their fullest potential."

Dallas County Public Health, in partnership with the McCreary Center, City of Perry, and Perry Elementary School, will provide leadership and coordination of the project. However, in order for the program to be successful and sustainable, support from the community is critical.  

“The walking school bus will be a community-owned project,” explains Walters. “We want to include the community in all phases of the design, implementation, and evaluation of the walking school bus program. The structure of the walking school bus will depend on the community’s interests and goals.”

The walking school bus can be as informal as a group of families taking turns walking their children to school, or as formal as a well-planned walking route with meeting points, a timetable, and regularly-scheduled trained volunteers leading the way.

Grant one of only 19 selected
The Wellmark Foundation is a non-profit foundation that seeks to improve the health of Iowans, South Dakotans, and their communities. Through its 2014 Healthy Communities small grant program, the Foundation received 112 grant requests from various organizations seeking support for smaller community health projects. This grant award to Dallas County Public Health represents one of nineteen competitively awarded grants across Iowa and South Dakota to establish pilot efforts or expand upon current community health initiatives.

The Wellmark Foundation is proud to award a cumulative total of $404,000 to these nineteen grant recipients.

“We are excited to support the Perry Elementary Walking School Bus Program and its initiatives to encourage students to be active and healthy,” said Stephanie Perry, The Wellmark Foundation. “Childhood obesity is a serious issue, and the implementation of the walking school bus is an important step toward eliminating this issue and encouraging students to exercise and be active. This is one of the many steps the Wellmark Foundation is taking to encourage a healthy lifestyle to Iowans of all ages.”

For more information on the Perry Elementary Walking School Bus Program, contact Jennifer Walters (515) 993-1764.  For more information regarding The Wellmark Foundation and its grant programs, contact Teresa Roof at (515) 376-5869 or visit www.wellmark.com/foundation.

 


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