86489821Kaiser Permanante granted $400,000 to four Colorado Springs school districts as part of the health care provider’s Thriving Schools Initiative.

The grants were awarded to Academy School District 20, Colorado Springs School District 11, Falcon School District 49 and Harrison School District 2.

Launched nationally by Kaiser Permanente in February 2013, Thriving Schools engages schools to practices that are healthy.

The four Colorado Springs districts are among 21 school districts in Colorado awarded grants from the Thriving Schools Initiative. To qualify for funding, each school district applied online and provided a strategy for getting staff and students active before, during and after school hours.

The funds granted Academy District 20 will pay for school health co-coordinators and for professional development to support schools. In addition, the grant will fund curriculum that promotes increased physical activity for students while at school.

Kaiser Permanente’s grant will greatly enhance and expand the initiatives we have already begun in Academy District 20 to increase physical activity for our students,” Superintendent Mark Hatchell said.

- Advertisement -

District 11 will use the money for physical education classes and out-of-school activities for students in “underserved areas,” said a press release sent by Kaiser Permanente and the districts. Activities like lacrosse, club-level sports and specialized camps usually come with an extra cost for families, and often economically impacted families aren’t able to afford these opportunities.

“We will be giving many students who may not otherwise have this opportunity a chance to participate in more competitive programs. This will give these students experiences that will potentially benefit them for a lifetime,” said Dave Eichman, District 11 athletic director.

Falcon School District 49 selected Odyssey Elementary School, Evans International Elementary School and Falcon Elementary School of Technology for health and wellness projects.

At Harrison School District 2, the funding will be used to train staff, to purchase equipment to be used for active classroom learning, active recess time and after school programs geared toward physical activity.

The link between healthy students, reduced absenteeism and stronger academic performance is well documented. Thriving Schools offers us a unique and targeted campaign to work collaboratively with Colorado schools to advance health and improve academic performance,” said Donna Lynne, Dr. PH., president of Kaiser Permanente Colorado.

Children who are physically active have higher test scores and improved attention in class, decreased absenteeism and improved behavior, decreased stress and improved mood, the press release said.

Kaiser Permanente currently delivers care to more than 90,000 school-age children and 30,000 teachers and staff who spend the majority of each day on a school campus.

Kaiser Permanente has supported Colorado schools and school districts for more than 25 years. The new program has reached almost 3 million Coloradans. Kaiser Permanente is also a founding funder and continued supporter of LiveWell Colorado’s school-based health initiatives.