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Center for ActiveWV earns grant from CDC to address pressing health challenges for schools and students

The Center for ActiveWV in the West Virginia University College of Applied Human Sciences received $390,000 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the first year of a five-year cooperative agreement for its WV Healthy Schools in Action project. The initiative, which aims to address the pressing health challenges faced by West Virginia schools and students, is anticipated to have $1.95 million in funding over five years.

The WV Healthy Schools in Action project aims to develop targeted approaches that enhance physical activity, healthy dietary behaviors, and self-management of chronic health conditions among underserved students statewide, with a special focus on Mercer County. By implementing comprehensive knowledge and capacity-building strategies aligned with the "Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child" framework, the project seeks to improve school health policies, practices, programs, and services that promote healthy behaviors and health equity practices.

The project is part of a larger initiative by the CDC, which awarded cooperative agreements to 20 states across the country. West Virginia, with its high prevalence of poor physical health, mental health, and related activity limitations, is in critical need of comprehensive health promotion efforts. Recognizing the potential of schools and school systems as strategic partners in improving health behaviors among youth, this project leverages a partnership between WVU, the West Virginia Department of Education, and the Mercer County public school system.

"Our team is thrilled to have been given this opportunity by the CDC to serve schools throughout the state of West Virginia," said Eloise Elliott, Ware Distinguished Professor and principal investigator. "We are dedicated to providing strategies and activities that promote healthy students and staff, and we are excited to make a positive difference in the health culture of our state."

In addition to Elliott, the WVU team is comprised of CAHS colleagues Sean Bulger, Emily Murphy, Emi Tsuda, Dana Voelker, James Wyant, and Sam Zizzi. Kristin McCartney from the WVU Extension Service, as well as graduate assistant Leanne Watkins, round out the project team.

As the lead organization for this project, the Center for ActiveWV at WVU will collaborate with other state and national partners to provide an array of strategies and activities to schools across West Virginia. The project team will also support at least 75 percent of Mercer County schools in developing and implementing school health action plans. These plans will address physical activity, healthy food access, health equity, and student health conditions, emphasizing the importance of a comprehensive school physical activity plan, active school wellness teams, and health policy development.

The WVU team's strong working relationship with West Virginia school administrators and teachers, state and local government, community organizations, and national organizations demonstrates their capacity to execute all planned initiatives and disseminate success strategies toward improved public health.

The WV Healthy Schools in Action project is poised to bring about meaningful and sustainable changes in the health and well-being of West Virginia's students and educators. With the support of the CDC and the collaborative efforts of all project partners, WVU remains committed to improving the health outcomes of the community and creating a brighter, healthier future for West Virginia.

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