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Wellmark Foundation grant funds awarded to Healthy Henry County Communities

Grant, chosen from over 130 requests, will encourage safe streets and physical exercise for students through the walking school bus project

March 28, 2013

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(Mt. Pleasant, Iowa) – Healthy Henry County Communities has received a $16,355 grant from The Wellmark Foundation to implement a Walking School Bus project to encourage students at schools around Henry County to walk to school, resulting in safer travel for youth and higher levels of exercise for both students and adult volunteers.

Walking School Bus Project
A walking school bus is simply a group of children walking to school with one or more adults. It can be informal with a few families taking turns walking their kids to school or a formal route with scheduled meeting points. Drop off points can be incorporated to include families who live in rural areas. Walking school bus programs address many of the safety concerns that parents have with allowing their children to walk to school while creating a fun way for kids to add more physical activity to their day.

Healthy Communities will begin working with the WACO school district to implement walking school bus programs and then roll the program out to additional schools over the next school year. Since Wayland is already exploring ways to make walking safer in their community due to the loss of a school bus route in town, a walkability assessment will be performed to determine areas of most need. Implementing walking school bus routes will help accommodate those children while ensuring they arrive safely by being accompanied by an adult. The more kids that walk to school the less vehicle traffic there will be at the intersection by the high school which will further increase safety.

After launching the program at WACO this spring, Healthy Communities will talk to the other elementary schools in the county to determine which would be ready to start walking school bus programs in the fall, hoping to reach all four districts by the end of the grant. “With the Community Transformation Grant we will already be working in these communities to help them become more walkable and bicycle-friendly. This program will create a synergy that allows us to reach all residents and maximize our resources,” states Kelly Carr, Healthy Communities Coordinator.

Grant one of only ten selected
The Wellmark Foundation is a non-profit foundation that seeks to improve the health of Iowans, South Dakotans and their communities. Through its 2012 Healthy Communities Grant Program, the Foundation received 135 grant requests seeking support for smaller community health projects. This grant award to Healthy Henry County Communities represents one of ten competitively awarded grants to establish pilot efforts or expand health initiatives throughout Iowa and South Dakota.

The Wellmark Foundation is proud to award a cumulative total of over $190,000 to these ten grant recipients to serve as catalyst funding for local health projects.

“The Walking School Bus Project in Henry County is a great way to not only add exercise into the daily routine of students, but also increase safety en route to school,” says Matt McGarvey, director of The Wellmark Foundation. “We are pleased to offer this grant to Healthy Henry County Communities to help create a healthy school environment.”

About Healthy Henry County Communities Healthy Henry County Communities (HHCC) is about people: volunteers, community leaders, educators, and others working together to help build a stronger, safer, healthier community. Our programming encompasses the entire age continuum and makes an impact on all segments of the community. This programming is driven by the commitment of local residents to create a positive, health environment for everyone in the community. Through collaboration and innovation, hundreds of people in Henry County have created, sustained, and continue to grow the Healthy Communities initiative.

For more information on the Walking School Bus Project, contact Kelly Carr, (319) 385-6523, For more information regarding The Wellmark Foundation and its grant programs, visit

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