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Children's Mercy receives $100,000 Kansas Health Foundation healthy living grant

Grant will promote healthy eating, active living and obesity prevention in Wyandotte County

Children's Mercy has been awarded a $100,000 healthy living grant from the Kansas Health Foundation. Children's Mercy, Weighing In and Healthy Communities Wyandotte is one of 22 new grantees in the state to receive healthy living grant funding, which will help support expanding the healthy lifestyles initiative in schools and child care settings in Wyandotte County, Kansas.

"Children's Mercy will work with organizations in Wyandotte County to spread a community message campaign, 12345 Fit-tastic! to drive awareness of the messages on five key behaviors and empower children and families with resources and support to take action," says Deborah Markenson, program lead and Director, Children's Mercy Weighing In. "We hope by sharing these message in schools, child care centers and in the community we will have the potential to align and effectively change practices supporting healthy lifestyle efforts in Wyandotte County."

The Healthy Lifestyles Initiative was created by Children's Mercy and community partners to promote healthy lifestyles and healthy weight for children and families. The 12345 Fit-tastic! message campaign includes individual messages to engage in each day, 1 hour or more of physical activity, 2 hours maximum of screen time, 3 servings of low or nonfat milk or yogurt, 4 servings of water not sugary drinks, 5 servings or more of fruits and vegetables. 

"Obesity rates for Wyandotte County children seen in Children's Mercy's clinics are trending higher than what national data reflect," says Markenson. "Rates of overweight and obese children are especially elevated for Wyandotte County Hispanic youth and when we drill further into the data it reveals that rates are trending up for older Hispanic and African American children, which underscores the importance of interventions targeted to school-age children."

Funding for healthy living initiatives represents one way the Kansas Health Foundation seeks to address issues of tobacco use and obesity in Kansas. Grants were specifically targeted toward programs and initiatives supporting healthy eating, active living and tobacco prevention. Smoking and obesity remain the leading causes of preventable death and illness in the state, and combine to cost Kansas more than $2 billion annually in unnecessary health care costs.

"Providing funding to organizations poised to make an impact on major health issues like obesity and tobacco use is crucial to our work and the overall health landscape in Kansas," said Jeff Willett, vice president for programs at the Kansas Health Foundation. "These are health problems that affect the lives of many Kansans, and are increasingly concentrated among Kansans of lower socioeconomic status, further compounding health and economic disparities in our state."

All grantees-including universities, nonprofit organizations, state agencies and municipalities-received funding through a competitive application process, with individual grant awards of up to $100,000. In total, the Kansas Health Foundation provided approximately $2 million in healthy living grants across the 22 grantees. Initiatives funded emphasized strategies intended to lead to implementation of policy, systems and environmental interventions with the potential to impact a broad population. Through this type of grant making, the Foundation opens up to Kansans who have the experience, know-how and inspiration to tackle some of the toughest issues facing public health today and provides the funding needed to see their mission accomplished.