Fit Kids Coalition gets $90,000 grant

Lawton, Ok (May 19, 2011) – The Fit Kids of Southwest Oklahoma (FKSWO) has received $90,000 as a part of the Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust's (TSET) Communities of Excellence in Nutrition and Fitness program. FKSWO works with the community to implement effective policies and programs that promote healthy food and physical activity opportunities in Comanche County.

"The FKSWO is excited to be one of the 15 grants funded in the state for this new program," said Dr. Ben Cooper.  "We are ready to work together with individuals and community partners to make nutrition and fitness a priority, and to make the healthy choice, the easy choice where we live, work and play."

The FKSWO coalition has been a driving force for children's health in Comanche County since 2005. Since that time, Lawton and surrounding communities have led the state in grass roots efforts at improving community health. "So much has already been achieved as a result of the amazing dedication and commitment of this community. Now that we are funded, we know we can effectively plan our efforts for even greater good, supporting evidenced based practices that will lead to improved fitness and nutrition", said Cooper. "This community should stand proud that our efforts have been rewarded with TSET's show of confidence"

At its May meeting, the TSET board of directors approved funding for 15 new grants in the Communities of Excellence Nutrition and Fitness program. These new grants, awarded to community coalitions, will be serving 21 counties across the state.  The board approved $1.35 million for the first funding cycle of the five year program.

"Communities are ready to address health issues, such as poor nutrition and lack of physical activity, which have negative impacts on the individuals, families and businesses in our own towns," said Ken Rowe, TSET Board of Directors Chair.   "Through these grants, we will begin to see healthier people, healthier communities and a healthier Oklahoma."

The Communities of Excellence in Nutrition and Fitness program funds community-based coalitions to work with schools, communities, workplaces and businesses to implement effective policies and programs that promote opportunities for healthy eating and physical activity.  A grant requirement is to hire a program consultant, which has been a significant need of the FKSWO coalition.

FKSWO and partners have impressed many state and federal health officials for the innovative approaches they have taken to address the childhood obesity issue.  Recognizing that this could be the first generation of children with a shorter life expectancy of their parents, FKSWO has partnered with MANY organizations, business and schools in Comanche county to implement strategies such as Safe Routes to School; the Farmers Market; Miracle League; the Commanding General' Community Fitness Challenge on Ft. Sill; Cameron's Community Garden; the Alliance for a Healthier Generation in Lawton Public Schools; 6th hour PE through the Lawton YMCA;  Comanche County Memorial Hospital Foundation's W.A.L.K. at Elgin, Cache and LPS and the L.I.V.E. program at MacArthur Middle Schools;  Friends of t he Trail and the Fitness Trailway through the Wildlife Refuge; and many, many others.  Through this grant FKSWO will be encouraged to continue their creativity and implement more promising and best practices strategies based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and other scientific sources. By funding counties across the state, the ultimate goal is an eventual reduction in Oklahoma's increasing obesity rates, and the resulting physical and financial toll on individuals, communities, and the State of Oklahoma.

In addition to direct financial support to the grantees, training and technical assistance to support the grantees will be provided in partnership with the Oklahoma State Department of Health Turning Point Initiative, Strong and Healthy Oklahoma Division, and experts from a variety of organizations currently involved in promoting healthy eating and active living in Oklahoma communities. An external evaluation of the program will be provided through the Oklahoma State University Department of Nutritional Sciences.

The $90,000 award is for the planning phase of the grant which covers the first 15 months.  During the implementation phase of the grant, years 2-5, the FKSWO will also be eligible for TSET funding up to $296,000 per year.