MARQUETTE - Marquette Area Public Schools has received an $8,000 grant from the Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indians to promote healthy school environments.
"The Sault Tribe Community Transformation Grant Project is pleased to be able to offer funding to Marquette Area Public Schools and eight other school districts across the Sault Tribe service area," said Sault Tribe Community Transformation Grant Project Coordinator Donna Norkoli in a written statement. "We know that MAPS administration and staff are committed to improving the health of all students which in turn enhances the ability of these students to learn and excel."
The $8,000 is provided to MAPS as one part of a broader $2.5 million five-year Center for Disease Control and Prevention grant awarded to the Sault Tribe to serve its seven county service area, which includes Marquette, Alger, Delta, Schoolcraft, Luce, Chippewa and Mackinac counties.
Evi Lindquist, community health educator for the tribe, said the grant is meant to help facilitate the ability of communities within that seven-county service area to improve systems and policies that can lead to sustainable changes to help people live healthier lifestyles.
"In shrinking or challenging school district budget times, it's like supplemental money to help them be able to do some of these types of activities," Lindquist said.
The $8,000 given to MAPS will help the district provide training for staff members on how to increase physical activity opportunities in school and help offer healthy food choices for students. The grant will also help support the formation of a Coordinated School Health Team, whose priority will be to develop a "realistic action plan which can be implemented focusing on improving the school health environment," according to a written statement.
The grant comes at a time when obesity among adults and children is hitting an all time high in the United States, with Michigan being one of the country's leaders in obesity.
According to the Michigan Department of Community Health's Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity Program, Michigan has the 10th highest prevalence of obesity in the United States, with obesity being defined as a Body Mass Index of 20 or higher, and overweight defined as a BMI between 25 and 29.9.
In 2009, three out of every 10 adults in Michigan were obese, while approximately 35 percent of adults were overweight. In 2018, Michigan is expected to spend $12.5 billion on obesity related health care costs if rates continue to increase at their current levels.
The prognosis for Michigan's children isn't much better.
According to the MDCH, the prevalence of obesity in Michigan youth reached 11.9 percent in 2009. Male youth were more at-risk, as they had a significantly higher obesity rate at 15.7 percent than female youth did at 8 percent.
Obese youth are at risk for a number of chronic diseases, according to the MDCH, including type 2 diabetes, hypertension, stroke, heart disease, asthma and certain types of cancer.
The grant, Lindquist said, is meant to help curb some of those issues.
"We awarded mini grants to several school districts across the seven county service area of the Sault Tribe to start working on coordinated school health objectives," Lindquist said. "They'll be focusing on improving school nutrition and incorporation physical activity."
Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242.