Campus Community School will have kids up and on their feet more thanks to the help of a grant the school received United Healthcare through the HEROES grant program.
Citing 2008 reports linking childhood obesity to Type II diabetes, officials with United Healthcare said they wanted to do their part to help fight obesity by having schools implement exercise programs that students chose. The health care program partnered with Youth Services of America.
“We decided to put it into the hands of the kids,” said Mary McElrath-Jones, director of public relations for United Healthcare and the program's organizer. “If the kids create the program it helps it stick.”
Schools apply for a grant of up to $1,000 and United picks schools to award, McElrath-Jones said. Campus Community School in Dover was one of the 200 schools in the nation to receive the grant. The school was awarded the full $1,000 and has used it to implement several programs.
“It empowers the kids to solve problems that they see in the community,” said Executive Director of United Healthcare for Delaware Allison Davenport. “It empowers them to take action on ideas and to get healthy.”
The money is to be used to implement exercise programs, but it will also be used to fund a community outreach project. Campus Community’s outreach program will be its third annual Cougars for a Cause 5K. The proceeds from the race will go to Ben Mapp, a former Campus Community student who suffered cardiac arrest. The proceeds will go toward his medical expenses. The school's officials chose to use its 5K as both an outreach activity and a way to encourage kids to get active.
“The race has been well attended, but we felt we could better encourage the kids,” said Eileen Guerke, the coach of the running team that is helping some students train for the race. “Participation in the race is multifaceted. It gives adults the chance to be role models, it gets kids active and it promotes volunteerism because we have kids involved in the planning.”
Campus Community has set up several groups that will benefit from the grant and that will participate in the race. One group is the running club, which meets for an hour twice a week after school. The group is made up of fourth through eighth graders. Twenty kids signed up in the fall and Guerke is expecting to have to enlist another coach due to interest this spring.
“It’s still new but we are hoping that it will grow, maybe into a cross-country team” Guerke said.
Another group has been started for staff members. Couch to 5K was started to help staff train for the race. The Cougars for a Cause 5K will be held on Saturday, April 27. The race is open to community members and the school is accepting sponsorships from businesses.