HARRISBURG, Pa., Aug. 25 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Forty Pennsylvania elementary schools have been selected to receive an Active Schools grant for the 2010-11 school year, Secretary of Health Everette James announced today.
"All children need 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day to build strong bones and healthy hearts," said James. "By implementing evidence-based programs that get every child active for 30 minutes a day, participating schools are making the health of children a top priority. The schools are also working with parents and communities to give kids more opportunities to be active after school and on weekends."
The Active Schools Grant Program is designed to increase physical activity during the school day and allows schools to implement evidence-based physical activity programs. The program helped more than 16,500 middle school students in 26 counties in its first year. In its second year, it will serve more than 17,000 elementary students.
Body Mass Index, or BMI, data submitted by the schools to the Department of Health indicates 15.22 percent of students in grades K-6 are overweight and another 16.6 percent are obese, which means just under 32 percent of those students are either overweight or obese. This rate declined slightly from the previous year, marking the first decline in BMI in many years.
"While any improvement in BMI is welcome, there remains much more that parents, schools, health providers, and local communities can do to encourage children to adopt active lifestyles," said James. "This is an important team effort that will pay lifelong dividends for children."
Funding for Active Schools is made available through a public-private partnership between the departments of Health and Education and six foundations and health insurers. Schools receive a $5,000 grant from the Department of Health's federal Preventative Health and Health Services Block Grant and an additional $10,000 from a match-funding organization in their region.
Participating partners include Independence Blue Cross, Highmark Foundation's Healthy High 5 initiative, Capital Blue Cross, Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania's Blue Ribbon Foundation, the UPMC Health Plan and United Healthcare.
The Active Schools Grant program implements evidence-based physical activity programs that meet the federal guidelines of moderate to vigorous daily physical activity. Some activities include brisk walking, playing tag, jumping rope, playing soccer or swimming.
Research by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, shows physically active children perform better in school and have higher attendance rates.
For more information on the Active Schools Grant Program, visit the Department of Health online at www.health.state.pa.us.
Media contact: Holli Senior, 717-787-1783
Editor's Note: The following is a list of 40 Pennsylvania elementary schools that will receive Active School grants for the 2010-11 school year:
Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh Charter School
West Hills Primary School
Riverside Primary Center
Conrad Weiser West Elementary School
Cambria Heights Elementary School
Weatherly Area Elementary School
Bellefonte Elementary School
Rainbow Elementary School
Harmony Elementary School
Dickey Elementary School
Robb Elementary School
Woodward Elementary School
Hydetown Elementary School
Enders-Fishersville Elementary School
Darby Township Elementary School
Delcroft Elementary School
Harris Elementary School
Sharon Hill Elementary School
Woodlyn Elementary School
Iroquios Elementary School
Central Elementary School
Southern Fulton Elementary School
Buchanan Elementary School
Carter & McRae Elementary School
Hamilton Elementary School
King Elementary School
Washington Elementary School
Wharton Elementary School
Neshannock Memorial Elementary
Memorial Elementary School
Loyalsock Valley Elementary School
Lyter Elementary School
Pleasant Valley Elementary School
Myers/Elkins Park Elementary Schools
Alliance for Progress Charter Elementary School
Turkeyfoot Valley Elementary School
Allegheny-Hyde Park Elementary School
Bell-Avon Elementary School
Dallastown Area Intermediate School
SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Health