PUBLISHED: 5:35 PM on Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Steps to a Healthier SE Alaska awards community grants
SITKA - The SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium Steps to a Healthier SE Alaska program awarded small grants worth nearly $85,000 to 14 Southeast community groups to implement community-based wellness programs or policy changes. The winning grant applications came from seven separate communities.

The grants were available to not-for-profit, community-based organizations, such as faith-based groups, after-school programs, coalitions and local and tribal governments in Southeast Alaska. The community organizations are required to promote at least one of the following wellness efforts - physical activity, clean air or nutrition/healthy eating. Communities have to complete their projects by the end of September 2008.

"The community-based grants are a wonderful opportunity for communities to come together around the goal of reducing the burden of overweight/obesity, diabetes and asthma by taking active steps to improve the overall quality of life of all citizens," said Gretchen Clarke, Community Coordinator for the SEARHC Steps to a Healthier SE Alaska program. "These community organizations put a lot of thought and planning into how best to positively affect their respective communities."

The grants were awarded to these groups (note that some grants will be used in multiple communities and descriptions only summarize some of the grant activities):

• The Association for the Education of Young Children (AEYC), Juneau, $9,825, will work with a minimum of 20 Head Start and child care programs around the region (Juneau, Sitka, Craig and Ketchikan) to provide training in practical teaching ideas and family involvement strategies related to healthy eating and physical activity.

• Alaska Native Sisterhood Camp 1, Wrangell, $7,000, will educate Native people in Wrangell on traditional and cultural practices related to healthy eating by bringing in three cultural experts to teach traditional methods for harvesting, preparing and preserving Native foods.

• Alaska Native Sisterhood Camp 4, Sitka, $10,000, will increase the physical activity of ANS members by providing nutrition education combined with opportunities for preparing and eating healthy meals and pursuing healthy lifestyles through participation in traditional food gathering and processing camps, and other physical activity programs such as StrongWomen.

• Big Brothers Big Sisters of Alaska, Juneau, $4,000, will expand its Healthy Activities Program to Sitka, Juneau, Haines and Yakutat by providing training to volunteers related to the importance and best practice of physical activity and wellness.

• Catholic Community Services/Southeast Senior Services, Juneau, $4,500, will organize and conduct obesity and diabetes prevention and healthy eating/physical activity training for the site managers at senior centers.

• The City of Craig, Craig, $2,500, will provide education on proper nutrition and the importance of healthy eating by establishing the Craig Community Garden Project and working with the University of Alaska Cooperative Extension Service and other partners to provide garden classes.

• The City and Borough of Sitka, Sitka, $9,739, will work with city staff, community groups, businesses and individuals to coordinate community action as Sitka applies to become a nationally certified Bicycle Friendly Community.

• Haines Dolphins Swim Team, Haines, $5,000, will implement a Full Spectrum Swim Program that will allow a wider and more diverse population to participate in the health benefits of swimming.

• Hydaburg Cooperative Association, Hydaburg, $4,500, will implement family activity nights by refurbishing the baseball field and supplies in order to provide an outlet for healthy, organized physical activity in the summer.

• Kenwa Kai Karate, Sitka, $5,000, will develop a Little Dragons karate program for children ages 3-5 to enhance children's focus, control, balance, memory, flexibility, fitness and sense of teamwork.

• KTOO-TV, Juneau, $10,000, will work toward finishing "Eating Alaska," a broadcast documentary on food choices and how they relate to our communities, food traditions and the clash between modern and subsistence lifestyles.

• Organized Village of Kasaan, Kasaan, $3,000, will implement "Being Strong of Mind, Body and Spirit," which will include weekly exercise programs for community members and monthly healthy and culturally relevant community dinners.

• Sitka Community Schools, Sitka, $4,500, will implement a four-day-per-week after-school exercise program that will feature running, walking, skill development and coordination for children in grades 2-5.

• Southeast Alaska Independent Living, Sitka, $5,000, will develop a Healthy Choices program for all of its communities that will include comprehensive SAIL staff training on the prevention of obesity, diabetes and asthma in its target population of disabled individuals.

The SEARHC Steps to a Healthier SE Alaska program targets three main focus areas - obesity, diabetes and asthma - by working with schools, worksites and other community groups to increase physical activity, encourage healthy eating and reduce tobacco use. The Steps to a Healthier SE Alaska program is part of a national Steps to a Healthier US program run by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. For more information, contact Steps to a Healthier SE Alaska Community Coordinator Gretchen Clarke at 966-8629.