Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

July 28, 2013

Funds focus on health of children

ASHLAND — A local coalition working to improve the health of children in Boyd and Greenup counties has received additional funding and support to develop and put in place long-term plans for their mission.

The Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities Coalition through the Kentucky Heart Foundation is among seven organizations selected statewide to receive long-term grant funding through the Investing in Kentucky’s Future Initiative. IKF is a program of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, which plans to provide $3 million over five years to test innovative ways to reduce risks of chronic disease for school-aged children as they grow into adults.

“This grant is the first step in a multiyear investment in lasting solutions for healthier communities,” said Susan Zepeda, CEO and president of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky. “We believe that by working together on the local level, civic leaders with a vision can develop innovative strategies to improve the health of our children.

“Our goal is to help communities make positive changes in policies and service access that will help our children grow into healthy, productive adults. Regardless of the challenges, we want to help communities find new pathways to positive solutions,” she said.

“This fit very well with the Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities work we were doing, said Regina Stout, the executive director of the KHF. “(The grant) gives us the opportunity to delve deeper into the needs of children ... what barriers there are and the kind of direction we need to take to remove those barriers.”

Stout said the initial funding of $19,245 is already in action, supporting the recent focus groups and surveys conducted by the coalition. A final report on the focus group findings is due next week, she said.

“Some interesting things came out of those focus groups,” said Stout, noting both children and adults participated and understandably said different things.

“We will take that information and add it to some of our previous information that we have analyzed and look at the work we need to do,” she said.

Stout said the coalition is expecting to roll out an action plan in early December, which will guide it through the next four years.

Stout said the first round of the grant will fund the purchase of geomapping software. “We are going to start looking at our communities more at a micro level,” she said, explaining workers will focus on disease rates, poverty levels and child populations in those smaller areas.

“That will allow the coalition to do things at the neighborhood level, which we haven’t been able to before,” she said.

Other funded agencies include the Clinton County School District; Fitness for Life Around Grant County; the Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky (Perry County Wellness Coalition); the Green River Area Development District (Partnership for a Healthy McLean County); Kentucky River Community Care Inc. (Breathitt County); and the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness.

More than 50 organizations expressed interest in the funding in 2012, but only 22 submitted full proposals, of those the seven organizations were selected by the foundation’s board of directors.

CARRIE STAMBAUGH can be reached at (606) 326-2653 or cstambaugh@dailyindependent.com.

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