Filed Under:  Health & Wellness, Local, News

Boys Town La receives signature grant to promote nutrition and overall wellness

26th November 2012   ·   0 Comments

By Kelly Parker
Contributing Writer

If there is any doubt we’re approaching the season of giving, just ask The Humana Foundation. The philanthropic arm of Humana Inc. has awarded a one-time, $100,000 grant to Boys Town Louisiana as part of its 2012 Humana Communities Benefit-New Orleans charitable giving program.

“We’re thrilled to provide this grant to Boys Town Louisiana, whose goal of improving the health and well-being of local children aligns perfectly with the mission of the Humana Communities Benefit charitable giving program,” said Rhonda Bagby, Humana Louisiana commercial market president. “They ‘re a very deserving organization, and we’re eager to see how the program they’ve proposed benefits the children and families of Greater New Orleans.”

The award was presented at the 2012 Humana Communities Benefit-New Orleans grant celebration event at The Foundry; in the warehouse district, on Nov. 8th. The Humana Foundation received more than 50 applications from New Orleans nonprofit groups and charitable organizations seeking the signature grant.

Boys Town Louisiana; which has provided and promoted a variety of diagnostic and assessment services to thousands of children and families in the greater New Orleans area for a little over two decades, plans to develop and sustain a summer educational program for about 60 area youngsters that will include social skills, fitness, and nutritional courses or offerings at its Gretna residential facility.

The site has three Family Homes for Adolescents in New Orleans and also provides In-Home Family Services to troubled families through its Baton Rouge office. At-risk children find a safe place to live through Boys Town Louisiana’s Foster Family Services, including the Host Home program that provides short-term emergency care. These services and programs touch the lives of approximately 7,600 children and families in the state each year.

This was Humana’s sixth year to award the grant in Louisiana. Previous winners include Odyssey House New Orleans, Miles Perrett Cancer Center, Rapides Children’s Advocacy Center, Safe Harbor and New Heights Therapy Center.

According to Rhonda Bagby, the grant provides a meaningful, transformational impact that will help the organization achieve greater milestones that it would otherwise be able to reach.

“The project that Boys Town Louisiana proposed fit well with Humana’s goal to help people achieve lifelong well-being,” she adds. “With the obesity epidemic in America, it is important to start healthy lifestyles early. Humana awards the grant to organizations focused on improving health experiences or building healthy communities.”

In 2011, Louisiana was named the fifth most obese state in the country, according to the eighth annual F as in “Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future 2011”, a report from the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Louisiana’s adult obesity rate is 31.6 percent. In a 2011 CDC Youth Risk Behavior study, (over the years of 2003-2011) out of 43 states surveyed, 12 ranked in the highest percentile (15% to 19%) of having high school students who were obese. Louisiana was one of the twelve states.

“We’re so thankful to receive this generous grant from Humana, which will allow us to expand our programs to further benefit children and families in the Greater New Orleans area,” said Dennis Dillon, Executive Director of Boys Town Louisiana. “With the obesity epidemic being a continuous problem in the U.S., especially among children, we’re eager to develop this program and educate families about proper nutrition, fitness and health skills.”

According to Dillon, the funding will enable Boys Town Louisiana to meet one of our strategic objectives which is to address areas of healthcare as well as youth care.

“In order to be eligible for the grant, our organization had to propose to provide services in one of three areas, childhood health and education, health literacy and services, or intergenerational health,” he says. “We developed a project that we knew would have impact in all three areas. Knowing that we had a couple acres of land that was unused behind our Behrman Highway facility, I developed the idea that a fitness trail would be an appropriate use of that space. The fitness trail will be designed by an architect with help from the youth at Boys Town Louisiana.”

“As I thought more, I began to think: thought, wouldn’t it be great if youth could learn how fresh vegetables are grown?” Dillon stated.

The curriculum; which will also include finance, will be developed with help of the youth and taught by experts in the community who volunteer their time.

Dillon is well aware of the decadent temptations of our city’s cuisine, but he believes Boys Town Louisiana is ready for the test.

“It has always been a challenge for me at a personal level,” he states. “Louisiana culture in general and New Orleans culture in particular is not known for promoting healthy choices when it comes to our cuisine,” he told The Louisiana Weekly. “My hope is that we will be able to instill new values that lead to a healthy lifestyle; we can at least educate young people and give them options. I know that fried shrimp po’ boys are not going anywhere, but at least we will be able to introduce the concept of moderation in one’s choices of the less healthy dining experiences. “

For more information on Boys Town Louisiana, visit www.boystown,org/louisiana.

This article was originally published in the November 26, 2012 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper

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