Working to Improve School Health and the Healthy Eaters, Lifelong Movers (HELM) is a partnership between the Rocky Mountain Prevention Research Center (RMPRC) at Colorado School of Public Health: University of Colorado and K-12 schools in the most impoverished area of the state. HELM is funded through a recently replenished grant from The Colorado Health Foundation, with the goal to enhance exercise and nutrition programs for healthier learning in southeastern Colorado and San Luis Valley schools.
“What is most exciting to me is that this grant gives us a chance to continue our longstanding partnerships with these rural school districts and to expand our work to now support children’s emotional health in addition to physical activity and healthy eating,” said Dr. Elaine Belansky, RMPRC director and co-principal investigator.
In HELM’s first three years alone, moderate to vigorous activity levels in elementary school physical education classes increased by 66 percent, and nearly 100 evidence-based environment and policy changes to combat childhood obesity were implemented in the southern Colorado study area. The current project, which encompasses 27 school districts, now will align with the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child (WSCC) model. WSCC’s holistic focus with attention to 10 components, ranging from physical education and physical activity to counseling and social services, could have a dramatic effect in the region, Dr. Belansky said.