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The Highmark Foundation Awards $580,000 in Highmark Healthy High 5 Grants to Four Non-Profit Organizations

Grants awarded for nutrition, physical activity and grieving programs

PITTSBURGH, Oct. 10 /PRNewswire/ -- The Highmark Foundation recently awarded more than $580,000 in grants to four non-profit organizations through its Highmark Healthy High 5 initiative. The grants will be used for nutrition and physical activity programs in Central and Western Pa., and for a grieving program in Centre, Huntingdon and Mifflin counties.

"Community organizations need support to address serious health issues facing children," said Yvonne Cook, president of the Highmark Foundation. "The Highmark Healthy High 5 initiative can provide needed funding to implement or expand programs to help children live happier, healthier lives."

The following grants were awarded under the Highmark Foundation's Highmark Healthy High 5 initiative:

Tides, Inc. (Centre, Huntingdon and Mifflin Counties)

Tides, Inc. was awarded $226,863 over two years to support the expansion of its grieving program. The grant will allow Tides to serve more children and to expand outreach and education efforts to highlight the program's presence as a resource for professional and community members. The funding will provide grief support to vulnerable children and their families in Centre, Huntingdon and Mifflin counties.

The mission of Tides is to help children, ages 6-18, work through their grief by providing a non-judgmental, nurturing, safe, creative and healing atmosphere where they learn they are not alone in their grief and can express their thoughts, feelings and experiences in a safe environment.

Tides has been working with the Highmark Caring Place since 2005 to implement a policy for referrals, establish procedures for outreach calls and set guidelines to screen and train volunteers. The Highmark Caring Place, A Center for Grieving Children, Adolescents, and Their Families, provides peer support groups, referral services, adult telephone support, and educational programs and resources for grieving children and families.

Highlands Hospital (Fayette County)

Highlands Hospital was awarded $168,000 to expand the B-Fit 4 Kids, a physical activity and nutrition program, in collaboration with the Connellsville Area School District. The program is designed to address exercise and nutrition in students ages 6 -18. According to the 2005 American Community Survey, approximately 36 percent of children in Fayette County are overweight or obese compared to the Pennsylvania rate of 13 percent. The funding will support B-Fit 4 Kids, a 12-week after-school program developed to address childhood obesity in the Connellsville School District. The program includes five components: biometric assessment, exercise, nutrition, relaxation techniques and provision of medical exam. The focus of the program is for children to adopt positive long-term healthy habits rather than short- tern weight loss.

Highlands Hospital is a 71-bed, acute care facility which has served the community for more than 100 years. Highlands provides comprehensive health care services to residents of southern Westmoreland and northern Fayette Counties. The Connellsville Area School District is one of the largest school districts in Fayette County, serving approximately 5,600 students in 11 elementary schools, two middle schools and one high school.

Pennsylvania Area Council of Boys & Girls Clubs (Berks, Indiana, Erie, Lehigh and Dauphin Counties)

The Pennsylvania Area Council of Boys & Girls Clubs was awarded $150,000 to pilot the Triple Play Program, A Game Plan for the Mind, Body and Soul at five locations in Western and Central Pa. The goal of the program is to increase nutrition and physical activity knowledge and behaviors among 500 youth, ages 6 -18. According to the 2006 Institute of Medicine Report Brief, for the past 30 years, the obesity rate has nearly tripled for youth ages 12-19 and quadrupled for children ages 6-11.

The funding will support the program in five Pennsylvania Clubhouse units: Reading, Commodore, Erie, Allentown and Harrisburg. The Triple Play program includes the following components:

-- Mind: Mind is the Healthy Habits component of the program that consists

of 10 weekly, 30-45 minutes sessions. Healthy Habits is a Club-wide

strategy to promote health and well-being in young people and is a

small-group program utilizing informational and experiential learning

activities for members to develop healthy attitudes and behaviors

regarding nutritional eating and physical fitness.

-- Body: The Body component takes a systematic approach which boosts

traditional physical activities by providing daily sports and fitness

activities for youth. The elements promote fun, physical fitness and

skill acquisition in a non-competitive yet challenging environment.

-- Soul: The Soul recreation component provides an opportunity to

strengthen and build a comprehensive, fun, social recreation program

that encourages cooperation and sportsmanship.

The mission of the Boys and Girls Clubs is to inspire and enable all young people, especially those from disadvantaged circumstances, to realize their full potential as productive, responsible and caring citizens.

YMCA of York and York County (York County)

The YMCA of York & York County was awarded a $35,000 grant to support the expansion of the HIP Kids program, an evidence-based, weight reduction and behavior management program. The goal is to help overweight children and their families learn to lead healthier lives. The program will target and help children with a Body Mass Index (BMI) that places them at or above the 85th percentile.

The YMCA of York and York County developed HIP Kids in response to the YMCA's national Activate America initiative. HIP Kids is a physical education and nutrition program designed to address the challenges of weight loss and behavior modification for severely overweight children and their families by helping them create and sustain healthy lifestyles. The YMCA program works with a registered dietitian and medical personnel and provides a more personal, less intimidating approach in a nurturing environment.

The mission of the YMCA of York and York County is to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build a healthy spirit, mind and body for all. Programs aim to develop the principles of faith, hope, love, honesty, respect and responsibility.

About Highmark Healthy High 5

Highmark Healthy High 5 is a five-year, $100 million initiative of the Highmark Foundation aimed to reverse the current trends in children's health and to promote lifelong healthy habits in children throughout the 49 counties served by the Highmark Foundation. Highmark Healthy High 5 addresses five critical children's health issues, including nutrition, physical activity, self-esteem, grieving and bullying - through education, communications, volunteerism, grants and programming.

SOURCE Highmark Foundation
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