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Healthy schools program coming to Saranac Lake, Tupper

New funding expands program, adds early childhood component

SARANAC LAKE — The Heart Network has received a five-year grant from the state Department of Health to continue its Creating Healthy Schools & Communities (CHSC) program.

The goal of CHSC is to increase access to healthy food and opportunities for physical activity. The new $1.5 million grant will allow the Heart Network to add three new communities to its agenda: Tupper Lake, Saranac Lake and Chateaugay. Existing community partners include Brushton-Moira, Salmon River, Malone and Waverly.

The Heart Network will also add an early childhood component to its focus areas going forward. Through a partnership with the Child Care Coordinating Council of the North Country, the CHSC program will engage with providers in Franklin County to adopt policies and practices that promote nutrition and physical activity for young children.

“Local and national research overwhelmingly shows that investing in the lives of young children is one of the most effective ways to improve physical and mental health outcomes later in life,” said Jamie Basiliere, executive director of the Child Care Coordinating Council. “Expanding the focus of the CHSC program to include the youngest segment of our population will no doubt pay dividends for this work.”

“Over the last five years, our CHSC program has been successful in developing initiatives that support general health and well being in school and community settings,” said Ann Morgan, executive director of the Heart Network. “From school breakfast programs and community gardens to improved pedestrian and bicycle safety, we’ve made a lot of progress — and projects like the Mobile Farmers Market show that innovative ideas and collaborations can benefit people who have limited access to healthy foods. We’re excited to continue this important work.”

CHSC community projects over the next five years include:

¯ Connecting Routes to Destinations: Implement policies, plans and projects in municipalities that promote active transportation and increase safe and accessible physical activity.

¯ Early Care and Education: Improve policies, practices and environments for physical activity and nutrition in childcare centers and day care homes.

¯ Worksites and Community Settings: Assist local worksites, hospitals and community organizations to adopt healthy food standards and implement worksite-based physical activity policies, programs or best practices.

CHSC school projects over the next five years include:

¯ Nutrition: Help schools comply with federal regulations and establish a healthy nutrition environment for foods served outside of meals and limit marketing of unhealthy foods and beverages.

¯ Physical Activity: Provide training and technical assistance and resources for school staff to implement and strengthen quality physical education, increase physical activity throughout the day and before and after school and improve staff, family and community involvement.

¯ School Wellness Policies: Facilitate policy updates and implementation of policies for physical activity and nutrition.

In addition to CHSC, the Heart Network also administers the Health Systems for a Tobacco Free North Country program, which focuses on advancing health care providers’ efforts at identifying and treating nicotine addiction among their patients in both medical and behavioral health settings, and the North Country Chronic Disease Prevention Coalition, a network of healthcare providers, community-based organizations and other regional stakeholders working to replicate and expand evidence-based diabetes prevention programs across the North Country.

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