Chicago Public Schools (CPS) has received a $4.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to support the launch of a comprehensive initiative aimed at improving the health and well-being of Chicago’s students: Healthy CPS. Healthy CPS will build upon this year’s addition of recess of the full school day for students across the city and will align CPS with the goals that are outlined in Healthy Chicago, the City’ first public health agenda. Specifically this federal grant will allow CPS to design and implement policies and programs that work to tackle obesity rates and tobacco use among CPS students.
“This year, no longer are schools choosing between reading and recess, or arts and arithmetic: students have both more time in the classroom and recess for the first time in decades,” said Mayor Emanuel. “Our goal is to ensure that our students are equipped with the knowledge and the tools they need to excel, and Healthy CPS adds on the benefits of the full school day, helping to ensure that our students not only have healthy options in schools but also learn healthy habits that will help them succeed.”
This school year, for the first time in almost three decades, all elementary school students have access to recess, a critical piece of the full school day and an important part of helping students stay active, healthy and engaged during the school day. This federal grant in part supports the development of a new CPS Healthy Snacks and Beverage Policy as well as a revised Local School Wellness Policy, both of which will work to ensure that Chicago’s students have healthy food and beverage options while in school and that schools have policies in place that cultivate healthy environments for students.
"Empowering students to make healthy choices in the classroom will give them the tools they need to make better choices at home," said U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL). "With today's investment, Mayor Emanuel and Chicago Public Schools now have the resources they need to implement a comprehensive strategy that will create a healthy environment for learning and promote a healthy, active lifestyle in the community."
With the support of this grant, CPS will partner with the Chicago Department of Public Health, Chicago Park District, and the Chicago Department of Transportation, as well as Chicago-based non-profit organizations to design and implement programs and policies that work in lock-step to engage students in healthy habits and create healthier environments for students in and around schools. CPS will also actively engage parents, local businesses and other stakeholders in these efforts, so that the healthy practices students learn in school are reinforced in their communities as well.
“From more time in the classroom to reestablishing recess, we are working to ensure that our students have the time and the tools they need to be prepared for college and career,” said CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard. “Healthy CPS will ensure that every school provides a healthy environment for our students to learn and grow, and engages students and their parents in strategies to encourage healthy habits for years to come.”
Examples of strategies that will be developed and implemented across schools include:
“Healthy CPS aligns with the goals outlined in Healthy Chicago, helping us work towards making Chicago one of the healthiest cities in the country,” said Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Bechara Choucair. “This comprehensive approach, including creating healthy environments within schools, providing student with healthy food options, increasing awareness and engaging families, is a step towards securing the health and wellbeing of Chicago’s students for years to come.”
Chicago’s childhood obesity rates are more than twice the national average; obesity among high school students increased by 20% between 1999 and 2009.
Overall, HHS awarded approximately $70 million in Community Transformation Grants (CTG) to 40 awardees focused on improving the health of small communities across the nation. Administered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the CTG Program is a comprehensive prevention and wellness initiative launched in 2011 and funded through the Affordable Care Act’s Prevention and Public Health Fund. These new funds will support areas with fewer than 500,000 people in neighborhoods, school districts, villages, towns, cities, and counties. Awardees represent organizations committed to improving health from a multitude of sectors.
The CTG grants are one piece of a broader effort by the Obama Administration to address the health and well-being of U.S. communities through initiatives such as the President’s Childhood Obesity Task Force, the First Lady’s Let’s Move!campaign, the National Prevention Strategy, the National Quality Strategy, and HHS’ Million Hearts™ initiative. The Prevention and Public Health Fund, as part of the Affordable Care Act, is supporting the CTG program and other initiatives designed to expand and sustain the necessary capacity to prevent chronic diseases, detect them early, manage conditions before they become severe, and provide states and communities the resources they need to promote healthy living.
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