Prosperity Gardens program gets grant

CHAMPAIGN — The American Cancer Society has awarded the Prosperity Gardens program in Champaign an $8,850 grant to expand its work with students in an alternative education program.

The grant was one of 30 youth obesity prevention community grants totaling $360,000 to nonprofit organizations across the state.

The grant to the Prosperity Gardens will be used to promote more nutrition education and physical activity for some students in the READY program alternative school in Champaign.

Prosperity Gardens operates 14 raised garden beds along North First Street in Champaign and provides educational and employment opportunities for local youths.

Nicole Bridges, Prosperity Gardens director, said Prosperity Gardens and the READY program have been collaborating to provide health and wellness education for READY program students for about a year, and the grant money will help expand that collaboration.

Students in the environmental science class have an opportunity to work in the gardens during gardening season, and there are plans to plant more food on a vacant city lot north of the Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation offices at 302 N. First St., C . Bridges said.

READY Director Donna Kaufman said grant money will help provide a more comprehensive wellness and fitness program for some students throughout the school year.

Each semester, 20 students will develop wellness and nutrition plans for a healthier lifestyle, she said.

The collaboration between the READY Program and Prosperity Gardens helps students have a sense of community and gives them some knowledge of where food comes from, she said.

"One of the things we've found is students don't know where food comes from," she said.

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