FERNDALE, NY — Those who pay attention to Sullivan County probably know that, among all of the counties in the state, Sullivan comes in 62 out of 63 in terms of health outcomes as ranked by the …
FERNDALE, NY — Those who pay attention to Sullivan County probably know that, among all of the counties in the state, Sullivan comes in 62 out of 63 in terms of health outcomes as ranked by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s county health rankings.
This weak showing prompted the creation of Sullivan 180, which in turn led to the creation of a new program to promote health in the community called Empowering a Healthier Generation School Award (EHGSA)”
The award was announced at a press conference at the CVI Building in Ferndale on Friday, February 21. Sandra Gerry, chair of Sullivan 180 and also founder and chair of Sullivan Renaissance said the new initiative is “an award competition much like the Sullivan Renaissance award competition model.” She said as Sullivan Renaissance has helped improve the aesthetics of the county, she believes that EHGSA can help improve health in the county beginning with students.
The competition is open to all nine school districts in the county and the grand prize will be for $200,000, which is being provided by New York State Sen. Jen Metzger.
“I’m a mother of three teens, I’ve seen the temptation of the screens, the computers and kids wanting to be in their rooms all the time. We need to get them out; we need to get them engaged in the physical world, exercising, eating right. When Sandra mentioned this idea to me, I fully embraced it,” Metzger said.
Sandi Rowland said that all nine school districts in the county are invited to fill out an application for the EHGSA program. She said the two-month application process is an opportunity for the school districts to consider how they will address health and wellness in the 2020-2021 school year. Applications are due Friday, May 1. A review panel will then select up to five schools to participate in the competition, and they will have access to seed funding. The competitors will issue reports to EHGSA in April 2021, and a panel of judges from outside the county will determine the winner.
“I foresee every school district in Sullivan County applying for this grant,” said Robert Dufour, superintendent of Sullivan BOCES. “Schools have a number of budgetary constraints that limit the opportunity to expand initiatives not tied to instructional requirements. Being awarded funds to expand wellness initiatives will benefit everyone in the school community.”
“When you have 180 school days, and you have nine districts, and you have how many thousands of children, parents and teachers and staff, the potential to really make a big impact on moving the needle on improving the health in the county really is exciting,” said Nancy McGraw, director of Public Health Services.
Aside from Metzger’s grant award, additional awards will be announced throughout the year. The final awards will be made at the end of the 2020-21 academic school year.