Swanston Fund Gives $150K to Fight Childhood Obesity - Business Journal

With childhood obesity numbers in Mahoning and Trumbull Counties above the state average, the William Swanston Charitable Fund today presented a $150,000 grant June 12 to the Mahoning Valley Healthy Kids Coalition.

Among the members of the coalition are Akron Children's Hospital Mahoning Valley, schools in Mahoning and Trumbull counties the Youngstown Central YMCA.

In Mahoning County, 38.2% of students in third grade are overweight or obese, says Akron Children’s, while the figure in Trumbull County is 43.3%. The state average is 34.7%.

“Childhood obesity has become one of the most important public health issues in the United States,” said Elena Rossi, the associate chairwoman of the department of pediatrics at Akron Children's Mahoning Valley. “These children live with health issues that, until recently, were reserved for their parents and grandparents.”

Among the diseases associated with childhood obesity are high blood pressure, diabetes and depression.

JoAnn Stock, director of development for Akron Children's Mahoning Valley, said that the plan, which begins in September, will focus on three areas: prevention, intervention and awareness.

The prevention aspect will include a series of workshops for parents and incorporate the Akron Children's future fitness program.

Intervention will address the problems of overweight children through physical fitness programs.

The final area, awareness, will offer information programs aimed at children to teach them the importance of good nutrition and benefits of physical activity. The programs will be offered in libraries and health fairs held in schools in the two counties.

Paul Dutton, chairman of the William Swanston Charitable Fund, said that the goal of the coalition is to reduce the number of overweight and obese children in the two counties as well as, over the next five year, to make students and their parents more aware of the toll childhood obesity takes.

“You can't deal with problems that are beyond your control. Childhood obesity is within our control,” Dutton said. “If you start at a young age and educate, you intervene and you provide a knowledge base, hopefully these young children will grow into adults in a healthier way.”

Dutton also announced $94,390 in grants to the Camelot Center's New Kids at Camelot summer program, the Children's Rehabilitation Center, Daybreak Youth Crisis Shelter, the Trumbull Head Start and the Resource Mothers program, a collaboration involving Humility of Mary Health Partners, Help Hotline Crisis Center and Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corp.

Campbell Works for Kids was also awarded a $150,000 grant to fund services such as after-school learning programs, anti-bullying programs and teacher seminars.

Dutton said the programs were chosen because they address the health and physical needs of children but are separate from the Mahoning Valley Healthy Kids Coalition.

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