NORWALK, CT - The Norwalk Hospital Foundation has received a $2,500 grant from the First County Bank Foundation to support Healthier Norwalk Kids, formerly known as Project L.E.A.N., an innovative, school-based program that teaches children the importance of exercising and eating healthful foods.
Created in 2010 through a collaborative partnership between Norwalk Hospital, Pepperidge Farm and the Norwalk Health Department, Healthier Norwalk Kids aims to improve the overall health of Norwalk students by teaching them lifelong habits of eating well and exercising often.
This is the seventh consecutive year that First County Bank Foundation has supported Norwalk Hospital’s involvement in the program, which has proven successful in reducing obesity rates among student participants.
The grant will help fund the efforts of two registered dietitians from Norwalk Hospital to engage students through hands-on nutrition education, physical activity, gardening and cooking. Other Healthier Norwalk Kids activities include “Breakfast Boot Camp,” for which children can choose to arrive at school early for exercise and a nutritious breakfast, as well as monthly events to encourage parent involvement.
“First County Bank Foundation is proud to support Norwalk Hospital and its mission to teach children about how to live a healthy lifestyle and learn proper nutrition,” said Reyno A. Giallongo, Jr., chairman and CEO of First County Bank and president of First County Bank Foundation. “Through the Hospital’s Healthier Norwalk Kids program, children learn the importance of exercise, healthy lifestyle choices and nutritional eating, and how these choices impact the children in the program, their families and the community.”
Healthier Norwalk Kids started as a pilot program with second graders at Jefferson Science Magnet School, Norwalk’s largest elementary school, and later expanded to include its third and fourth grades. Now in its eighth year, the program includes six Norwalk elementary schools. Registered dietitians from Norwalk Hospital teach second and third grades in Jefferson, Kendall, Tracey, Brookside, Marvin, and Silvermine elementary schools.
Childhood obesity poses a significant public health challenge in Norwalk and throughout the United States. During the 2012-2013 school year, obesity rates of public school students in Norwalk were higher than state and national averages. Healthier Norwalk Kids continues to exhibit positive changes in the areas of nutrition knowledge and healthy behaviors amongst its second and third-grade participants.