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Wellmark Foundation grant targets childhood obesity in Burlington schools

Grant, chosen from 150 requests, aims to improve the culture of recess

February 15, 2011

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(Des Moines, Iowa) – The Great River Foundation, Inc. in Burlington will use a two-year, $49,640 grant from the Wellmark Foundation to enhance recess in two elementary schools.

Operation Recess will be implemented by the Great River Medical Center in collaboration with the Burlington Community School District.

Program provides structured recess activities
The goal of Operation Recess is to increase exercise among elementary school students in kindergarten through fifth grade. North Hill and Corse elementary schools will use the Playworks® program to provide structured daily lunch-time recess activities.

Playworks® trains recess coaches, who help transform recess play into a positive experience for students and staff, providing an opportunity to increase physical activity. The program divides the playground into individual and group game areas. Recess coaches supervise at least one activity during recess, and often move to several areas, encouraging and assisting students as needed.

Improving the culture of recess will have several benefits for participating students, including:

  • Increasing the likelihood that children will feel confident to participate in recess games
  • Improving their personal health
  • And, as a result, reducing the prevalence of childhood obesity

Grant one of only 17 competitively selected
The Wellmark Foundation is a non-profit foundation that seeks to improve the health of Iowans, South Dakotans, and their communities. Through its 2010 Healthy Communities Grant Program, the Foundation received nearly 150 grant requests. This grant award to Great River Foundation represents one of 17 competitively awarded to establish or expand health initiatives throughout Iowa and South Dakota.

Cumulatively, The Wellmark Foundation is proud to award $1,334,817 to these 17 grants to serve as catalyst funding for local health projects.

“Schools can play a pivotal role in preventing childhood obesity,” says Matt McGarvey, the Foundation’s director. “Improving the culture of recess so all kids feel safe and confident to participate will benefit both their physical and emotional health.”

About Great River Foundation
The Great River Foundation raises, manages and distributes funds that promote and support programs and services provided through the facilities of Great River Medical Center. Great River Medical Center is a regional medical center offering acute, skilled and intermediate care to residents of southeast Iowa.

For more information on the Great River Foundation and its programs, contact Sue Ferguson, (319) 768-4009 / For more information regarding the Wellmark Foundation and its grant programs, visit




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