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Local schools, agencies begin to 'adopt healthy habits’

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Staff at the Alcohol and Substance Abuse Council of Jefferson County are practicing what they preach.

Executive Director William W. Bowman said it only makes sense for the agency’s 21 staff members to focus on wellness if they teach clients about living healthy lives. That will be partly accomplished through a $500 grant from the local Adopting Healthy Habits initiative so the nonprofit can establish regularly scheduled workplace physical activities.

Mr. Bowman said that also aligns with how the health care system is developing, which requires health-related agencies to work more collaboratively to treat a patient.

“If we’re going to be focusing on wellness in the community, we need to focus on ourselves first,” Mr. Bowman said. “We’ve developed a healthy snack policy for staff.”

Nutritional education will be provided by Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County, which helps run the Adopting Healthy Habits initiative in Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties. The Northern New York Community Foundation approved a grant of $10,000 last year to partner with the extension office to offer the recent round of grants. Eight organizations and schools were funded, out of 14 applicants.

Max M. DelSignore, Community Foundation donor services coordinator, said the foundation realizes that the Adopting Healthy Habits grants are “creating new relationships with these organizations” that received funds. The foundation also likes to see how far dollars can stretch within a community, no matter how small a grant may be.

Initiative grants ranged from $500 to $2,000.

The following agencies and schools also received Adopting Healthy Habit grants:

■ $2,000 to LaFargeville Central School to implement physical activity programs during open fitness center hours.

■ $1,950 to the city of Watertown Parks and Recreation Department to expand outdoor access and offer nutrition education as part of the organization’s Outdoor Youth Running Club.

■ $1,500 to the Mental Health Association in Jefferson County to purchase a greenhouse and enhance the ability to grow fruits and vegetables for clients.

■ $1,000 to Lyme Central School, Chaumont, to create an outdoor garden and serve produce in the school cafeteria and surrounding community.

■ $1,000 to the St. Lawrence Central School Garden Club, Brasher Falls, to increase awareness of fruits and vegetables for at-risk middle school students.

■ $550 to the Canton Golden Bear Packs program to purchase healthy and nutritious foods for at-risk youths over school weekends and holiday breaks.

■ $500 to the Thousand Islands Land Trust to expand the organization’s Kids Korner to promote children’s participation in growing, harvesting and preserving food at the Zenda Farm Preserve’s Community Garden.

Amanda R. Root, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County resource educator, said this is the first time the Adopting Healthy Habits grants have branched out of Jefferson County and into St. Lawrence and Lewis counties. She said she hopes area organizations may continue to receive mini grants, but that is dependent on finding funding sources. While she hopes to continue the partnership with the Community Foundation, she said she also is looking for funding alternatives.

For more information, call Mrs. Root at 788-8450, ext. 273.

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