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College of Human Ecology

Johannes leads project to help small communities get fit

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

An innovative grant program is helping Kansas communities offer a variety of healthy activities for all ages, including a new walking trail, sand volleyball court and even the hiring of a water aerobics instructor for a small city´s swimming pool.

Each of the new projects is being funded with the help of a "Get it - Do It!" grant, said Elaine Johannes,  assistant professor in the School of Family Studies and Human Services and Research and Extension youth development specialist.

The grant awards of $3,000 to each community support collaborative planning and implementation of community-based health-promotion programs, Johannes said.

Combining the interests and efforts of youth and adults to form an intergenerational action committee also lends support to the health-promotion effort, said Johannes, who has been active in the statewide push for walking and hiking trails.

"Grant projects vary, but share a common goal of encouraging youth and adults within the community to create appealing activities that contribute to a healthy lifestyle," Johannes said.

The Get it - Do it! projects selected for 2009 funding include:

  • Glasco, pop. 536: As a second-year grant recipient, volunteers in Glasco will continue a community-based walking program developed by high school students for grade school students, set aside swimming pool time for lap swims and, again this year, hire a water aerobics instructor for swim classes at the community pool in addition to refurbishing the community´s tennis courts and developing a local tennis program.
  • Dr. Claude Harwood, a retired physician who, with his wife Marilyn, is an active supporter of the PRIDE Program and health-promotion within the community, noted:

    "Physical activity is important to health, but not always a priority. Many in our community attend sports as spectators, but overlook the importance of adding physical activity to their life."

  • Grinnell, pop. 329, will use grant funding to add workout stations to the city park.
  • Melvern, pop. 429, which also is a second-year grant recipient, is introducing Totally Getting into Fitness (TGIF). The health series is being developed by youth in the community and will include classes and other events, many of which are associated with a seven-mile walking and hiking trail being developed along the Marais des Cynes River.
  • Rossville, pop. 1,014, will use the grant funds to promote intergenerational activity through improvements to a local park, which include the building and promotion of a sand volleyball court that also will be used for physical education classes and tournaments.
  • Spearville, pop. 813, is using the funds to promote Walk Kansas (a statewide fitness challenge offered by K-State Research and Extension) with follow-up activities sponsored by the local PRIDE Program in cooperation with the Spearville Wellness Center.
  • Stafford, pop. 1,161, will use the grant funds to improve access to and promotion for its community park.

The efforts are sponsored by Kansas' PRIDE Program, a volunteer-driven community development program co-administered by K-State Research and Extension and the Kansas Department of Commerce, and Healthy Kansas, a health-promotion initiative from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

For more information about the "Get It - Do It!" program, contact: Elaine Johannes at 785-532-7720.

This article was posted on Wednesday, March 25, 2009, and is filed under College News, Family Studies & Human Services.