The Rutgers University Foundation, along with New Jersey Healthy Kids Initiative (NJHKI) and Rutgers Cooperative Extension’s (RCE) Department of Family and Community Health Sciences (FCHS), has received a grant in the amount of $100,000 from Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey. The donation, made through The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey, will be used to fund the Rutgers Culture of Health School Program.
“We are very grateful to the Horizon Foundation for providing funding for one of our most successful programs that has received accolades from students, teachers and parents,” said Daniel Hoffman, co-principal investigator of NJHKI and professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences. “The Rutgers Culture of Health School Program is an excellent program that really educates, entertains and helps students begin to work towards being more healthy and fit.”
“Horizon is pleased to support the important work being done by Rutgers New Jersey Healthy Kids Initiative and the Department of Family and Community Health Sciences to foster a culture of health in children across the state,” said Jonathan R. Pearson, executive director of the Horizon Foundation for New Jersey.
Rutgers Culture of Health School Program is designed to foster and promote healthy lifestyles in today’s youth in the context of physical activity and nutrition education as a means to increase physical and nutritional literacy. The program aims to positively influence the social and cultural determinants of health to which children naturally relate and find empowering.
The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey works across New Jersey with grantees who share its commitment to improving the health and communities served by Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey. “The Rutgers Culture of Health School Program aligns with Horizon’s commitment to helping our members access the resources they need to manage their health. We are improving the health of the communities we serve by helping students lead healthier lives through bolstering physical and nutritional literacy in schools,” explained Pearson.
NJHKI’s university partner in this innovative program is FCHS, a unit of Rutgers Cooperative Extension, “whose faculty and staff are passionate advocates and innovative educators who support the health and wellness needs of our states residents,” noted Brian Schilling, director of Rutgers Cooperative Extension. “Horizon’s timely investment helps advance critically needed programming to educate and encourage children to develop the types of healthy eating habits and maintain active lifestyles—to indeed instill a culture of health—that bring lifelong benefits.”
Students from several school districts across New Jersey have already benefited from the Rutgers program, including students at Greater Brunswick Charter School in New Brunswick.
“Rutgers Culture of Health School Program has given our K-1 students at Greater Brunswick Charter School the opportunity to work on various motor skills in small groups at a time. This was so beneficial for our students due to our large class sizes,” said Kaury Bono, health and physical education teacher, Greater Brunswick Charter School.
“The Rutgers experience was something our students were extremely appreciative of. Seeing how excited our kindergarten and 7th grade students were every Tuesday and Thursday was reflective of the overall experience at Rutgers,” added Connor Lindsay, health and physical education teacher, Greater Brunswick Charter School.
David Buchholtz, executive director of food services in the Paterson Public Schools, had this to say about the Rutgers program.
“I’m excited to partner with the Rutgers Cooperative Extension’s Family & Community Health Sciences Department once again in bringing the Rutgers Culture of Health School Program to the Paterson public schools. I know our students will be just as excited as I am to further experience the educational benefits Rutgers has to offer in teaching our students about the importance of staying physically active and eating well.”