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Federal grant will help promote healthy lifestyles in La Crosse County

September 14, 2009
In The News

La Crosse County has received a $333,000 federal grant to help fight obesity in young schoolchildren and train physicians to counsel patients on healthy lifestyles.

U.S. Rep. Ron Kind announces at Sand Lake Elementary in Holmen a federal grant to help fight obesity in La Crosse County schools. Dick Riniker photo

"The key here is to make sure every time these kids turn around, they're receiving positive reinforcement in the community about helping them make healthier lifestyles - eating better, exercising more, not smoking, not doing drugs," said U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, flanked by third- and fifth-grade students at Holmen's Sand Lake Elementary School.

Linda Lee, nutrition services manager at the La Crosse County Health Department, said the Heal Obesity program has three components.

The first will be a one-year pilot program at Holmen, Onalaska and West Salem schools to help preschool children and their families develop activity plans and better eating habits.

A similar effort already is under way involving 600 families in the Women, Infants and Children food assistance program offered by the county Health Department. This latest grant will expand that wellness effort to children in the three school districts.

The second part of the program will have the Children's Health Education Center in Milwaukee develop a wellness curriculum for fourth- through eighth-grade students. A program for kindergarten through third grade already exists, and the grant money will provide a K-8 curriculum for the three school districts.

The La Crosse School District was invited to be in the program but declined, Lee said.

The third component will be to have Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, also in the Milwaukee area, send trainers to La Crosse County to help local physicians develop motivational programs for healthier habits.