GC School District 16 awarded $155K for wellness coordinator | PostIndependent.com

GC School District 16 awarded $155K for wellness coordinator

The Garfield County School District 16 plans to start interviewing candidates for a newly created wellness coordinator position, which will be funded entirely through the Creating Healthy Schools Grant the district was awarded in January. The district hopes to find its wellness coordinator by April.

"The wellness coordinator will work throughout the district with all the schools," Director of Nutrition Services Jody Williams said. "Ideally he/she will be set up at one of the elementary schools in the district as we want kids to feel as comfortable as possible with them."

The district applied for the Creating Healthy Schools Grant in October, and in January it was awarded $155,000 over the next two years. The money will be used to fund the wellness coordinator salary, which is projected to be around $40,000, with around $35,000 left to spend for new programs and projects each year.

"The school district supports the idea 100 percent," Williams added. "This is one of those opportunities that doesn't come along every day."

To be eligible for the grant the district had to participate in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and had to have evidence of a high need for health and wellness education and programs at a district level.

Districts with 40 to 50 percent of the students on free or reduced lunches were considered to be a high-need and were eligible for the grant. Districts with below 40 percent of its students on free or reduced lunches were not eligible for full implementation grants. The Garfield County School District 16 free or reduced lunch rate is at 70 percent. Students qualify for free or reduced lunch based on income.

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Colorado Health's criteria to qualify for the grant included proposals that focused on local planning, community collaboration processes, and student behavioral health needs. Physical activity, healthy food, health education, leadership support and more had to be included in the proposal as well.

"There's not enough understanding of our wellness program throughout the district," Livewell Garfield County Coordinator Dana Wood explained. "We plan to use the money for community conversations and want to develop trusting relationships in the community. We want this to be a partnership and to create districtwide emphasis on help."

Among the criteria Williams listed for potential candidates included a diet and educational background. She also emphasized the coordinator's ability to work more closely with the Hispanic population in the community.