State funding projects that boost health

State funding projects that boost health

SPRINGFIELD — Build a walking trail or a bicycle path. Add community garden space.

The Illinois Department of Public Health has $4.8 million in federal money available for local governments, school districts, health departments and community organizations willing to tackle obesity and improve health.

The money is available in nearly every county in the state.

Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake and Will counties are being excluded from the We Choose Health program by terms of the grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to the health department.

Grant-seekers can apply for up to $300,000, but they'll have to act fast. A letter of intent to apply is due by May 18, according to public health spokeswoman Melaney Arnold.

"It's real quick," she said.

Actual project proposals will be due June 15, Arnold said.

Priorities for the We Choose Health program are projects aimed at tobacco-free living, those that boost active living and those focused on healthy eating, according to the public health department.

Arnold said $3.6 million of the CDC money will be available for project grants, and the remaining $1.2 million will be used by public health to administer the program.

Several of the program's objects are aimed at school projects and healthier school-age children.

They include increasing healthy eating and exercise opportunities at schools, supporting children in walking or bicycling to schools, and promoting social and emotional wellness at schools.

The program is also intended to support projects that:

— Reduce exposure to second-hand smoke in public places and multi-unit housing.

— Make healthier foods more available and unhealthy foods less available.

— Create more safe and convenient places for bicycling, walking and other exercise.

— Promote breast feeding.

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