Hardin County HONORS programs aims to improve nutrition, learning and physical activity of children

Hardin Memorial Health and the Lincoln Trail District Health Department have obtained a $50,000 grant from Passport Health Plan’s Improved Health Outcomes Program (iHOP) Medicaid Passport Services to improve the lives of at-risk children in Hardin County through improved nutrition, learning and physical activity.

The program will be known as Hardin County Hands-On Nutrition, Outreach & Recreation for Students (HONORS) and is designed to motivate students in grades 1-5 to make better choices and follow healthy habits along with encouraging improved learning performance and physical fitness as part of their daily regimen.

According to County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, a collaboration between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, Hardin County exceeds the national average for adult smoking, adult obesity, physical inactivity, people without health insurance, and children living in poverty. HONORS is designed to address these factors by setting better examples and goals at an earlier stage of life.

HONORS will be implemented through Panther Place, an after-school program offered by Elizabethtown Independent Schools. Panther Place helps students build successful futures by providing academic support, enrichment activities, skill building opportunities and greater awareness of healthy living choices such as proper eating habits, tobacco abstinence, avoidance of substance abuse and the need for regular physical fitness.

To bring the program to life, teachers and teen volunteers will work with students in the HONORS program to sharpen skills in math, science, reading and writing in a fun and interactive way each afternoon. The grant includes enhancement of an existing walking trail along with cooking demonstrations, hands-on food preparation, and creation of a community vegetable garden to serve as a learning tool and family bonding activity.

As an incentive for participants, the grant also includes purchase of an iPod Shuffle for younger students and iPod Touch for 4th & 5th graders. The older students will be able to track their progress on the iPod Touch through pre-loaded apps, and all students completing the HONORS program will be awarded their respective hand-held devices at the end of the school year for personal use.

“Hardin County is blessed to have community partners who traditionally step forward and work in unison to address various needs. We’re delighted to continue our longstanding relationship with Lincoln Trail District Health Department,” said Dennis Johnson, CEO at Hardin Memorial Health.

Enrollment into HONORS begins in September 2013 and the pilot program will conclude in August 2014 after final evaluation.


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