Kansas Health Foundation awards grant to Fort Hays State University

by Samantha Dean
Fort Hays State University received a grant of $15,397 from the Kansas Health Foundation Board of Directors to fund a "Healthy Reading for Kids: Food & Fitness Project" in Hays.

Healthy Reading for Kids addresses obesity among U.S. children and encourages healthy living and positive attitudes toward fitness and fruit and vegetable consumption.

"We want to introduce the students to a healthy lifestyle by using literature," said Dr. Valerie Zelenka, assistant professor of teacher education and facilitator of the grant proposal and project.

Beginning in August, a team of 35 Fort Hays State University teacher education students will implement the project as part of an after school literacy tutoring program. The pre-service teachers will read books and engage in learning activities with approximately 120 students at Lincoln Elementary School over a 10-month period.

"It is important for the teacher education students to engage the students and integrate social and life skills through books because it benefits the child as a whole," said Zelenka.

The grant will provide books on fitness and good nutrition, after-school snacks and recipe cards featuring healthy meals that students can make with their parents.

According to the foundation, KHF allocated more than $1.1 million during the spring 2015 cycle to help nonprofit organizations in Kansas accomplish 58 projects dedicated to improving the health and wellness of Kansans.

"The Healthy Reading for Kids project benefits not only the student teachers but our community," said Zelenka. "This is our way of giving back and helping young students develop reading skills through topics that will help them grow."

About the Kansas Health Foundation:
The Kansas Health Foundation is a philanthropy dedicated to improving the health of all Kansans. For more information about the Kansas Health Foundation, visit www.kansashealth.org.

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