Wellmark Foundation Grant
to Support Childhood Obesity Prevention Program in Des Moines
July 8, 2008
(Des Moines, Iowa) – Des Moines Public
Schools will use a $46,991 grant from The Wellmark Foundation
to prevent childhood obesity by creating a fitness arcade
at Merrill Middle School.
The Merrill Middle School Fitness Arcade will provide
staffing resources and equipment to complete a fitness arcade
designed to increase physical activity of students, says Blake
Hammond, science teacher at Merrill Middle School. The arcade
will be available for students to use in physical education
and other classes, during recess and after school. In addition,
weekly family nights with targeted outreach to at-risk children
and families will be held throughout the year.
“The fitness arcade will provide exergaming opportunities
for children in a safe, accessible and fun environment,”
says Hammond. “The arcade will use technology-driven
games that require students to be physically active in order
to play. This form of exercise incorporates the fun aspect
of video games with a physical activity component.”
Arcade equipment will include Nintendo Wii systems, dance
and skateboard systems, recumbent bikes and wall-mounted televisions.
The equipment will include heart rate monitoring capabilities
to track students’ health progress.
According to Hammond, more than 40 percent of Merrill Middle
School’s students are either overweight or at risk for
overweight. Although the arcade will be available to all students,
it will target students that currently do not participate
in physical education class activities, those in high risk
ethnic groups, and students not meeting fitness goals during
regular physical education classes. The project will also
incorporate nutrition information through the school nurse
and a resource center located in the arcade, says Hammond.
Collaborating organizations include Des Moines University,
Blank Children’s Hospital and Mercy School of Nursing.
For more information about Merrill Middle School Fitness
Arcade, contact Blake Hammond at email@example.com
The Wellmark Foundation has provided nearly $14.7 million
to fund 406 health-related grants in Iowa and South Dakota
since 1997, including $1,739,233 this cycle. “The Wellmark
Foundation collaborates with non-profit and governmental organizations
in Iowa and South Dakota to positively impact the health outcomes
of individuals and communities in our states,” says
Matthew McGarvey, director of The Wellmark Foundation. “We
are happy to fund this unique grant that will support childhood
obesity prevention and see an exergaming project in action,”
The Wellmark Foundation is a private, non-profit foundation
created by Wellmark, Inc., doing business as Wellmark Blue
Cross and Blue Shield of Iowa. Due to the Foundation’s
recent significant support toward disaster relief efforts,
the timeline for the second 2008 community responsive grant
cycle has been modified. Letters of Interest (LOIs) are now
due on September 23, 2008. Learn more about this funding opportunity
during a grant applicant teleconference on July 21, 2008.
For teleconference and LOI details, visit the Foundation’s
Web site at www.wellmark.com/foundation.
Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield and The Wellmark Foundation
are independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield