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Mayo Clinic Health System grant program awards $200,000 to nonprofits in northwest Wisconsin

EAU CLAIRE — By investing $200,000 in grant money awarded to nonprofits in northwest Wisconsin, Mayo Clinic Health System is working to improve the health of communities in the region.

“While improving the health of the populations we serve is core to our work at Mayo Clinic Health System, we are also keenly aware that we cannot do it alone,” says Randall Linton, M.D., president and CEO of Mayo Clinic Health System in northwest Wisconsin.

Dr. Linton adds, “The Hometown Health Grant Program represents Mayo Clinic Health System’s investment in community partners as we work together to enrich the well-being of all who live in northwest Wisconsin.”

The Hometown Health Grant Program, now in its second year, opened to applicants in January 2016. New or existing programs in Barron, Buffalo, Dunn, Chippewa, Eau Claire, Pierce, St. Croix and Trempealeau counties were invited to apply. Recipients recently were named:

1. Aging & Disability Resource Center of Barron, Rusk and Washburn Counties: Wisconsin Music & Memory Program, $25,000:  Music affects the brain and the body. This program will create an intergenerational partnership to bring music to community-dwelling adults with dementia and local youth involved with the Boys & Girls Club of Barron County to load iPods with music that speaks to the older generation living with dementia. In exchange, the youth will have the opportunity to help destigmatize dementia through a learning environment that supports collaboration and positive relationships.

2. Altoona Elementary School: Four Seasons of Fun Fitness Trail, $20,000: A two-mile fitness trail for all community members will be incorporated adjacent to the new elementary school. The trail will encourage outdoor fitness for people of all ages, and will provide information about local habitat, plants and animals by working with the Altoona High School science program.

3. Bloomer City Park: Outdoor Fitness Path and Fitness Circuit, $20,000: Outdoor fitness equipment and instructional signage will be installed in Witt Park to provide free exercise equipment for adults. This will be located adjacent to the existing playground and bathroom facilities. This project, along with a proposed new bike path, will enhance fitness and community health for those living in and those visiting the city of Bloomer.

4. Boys & Girls Club of Greater Chippewa Valley: Healthy Lifestyles — Nutrition & Physical Fitness Program, $20,000: Boys & Girls Club members will learn the basics of nutrition, fitness and personal wellness; including self- care and positive habits for personal hygiene and grooming. More than 1,000 children at centers in Eau Claire, Chippewa Falls and Menomonie are expected to benefit from this program.

5. Chippewa Valley Free Clinic: Reducing Obesity in a High-risk Population, $14,000: Clinical services will be enhanced by intervening with overweight and obese patients to prevent the incidence of serious-related disease. This clinical model will use education, counseling and treatment to engage patients in addressing and reducing obesity health risks.

6. Chippewa Valley Montessori: Outdoor Environmental Project, $13,000: Garden areas and green gathering and learning spaces will replace an existing play area that is more than 20 years old. Children and families from the community will be able to learn and play in areas that include an edible landscape and school garden, along with a restored prairie area.

7. Feed My People Food Bank: Produce Initiative, $20,000: This program will increase the amount of fruit and vegetables available to low-income residents in Barron, Buffalo, Chippewa, Dunn and Eau Claire counties. Approximately 180,000 pounds of produce is anticipated to reach 9,000 individuals in 3,000 households.

8. Junior League of Eau Claire: Kids in the Kitchen, $8,000: Kids in the Kitchen is offered in partnership with the Eau Claire Area School District. Cooking classes for fourth-graders will be offered at Forage in Banbury Place, and will include food safety, food preparation and an art and fitness rotation, with activities including Zumba or yoga.

9. School District of Augusta: Food — Small Choices, Big Changes, $16,000: Classroom gardens will be created to teach students where food comes from, increase consumption of fruits and vegetables, and provide fresh produce to the school food service. Educational events will be held for families to learn and experience healthy food options.

10. School District of Menomonie: Partners for Resilience, $24,000: Students in grades seven through 12 will receive mental health education and skill development to meet identified mental health needs of school-age children. School and community personnel also will be trained to teach information focused on resiliency, youth development, brain development and stress reduction.

11. Stepping Stones of Dunn County: Project Share a Meal, $20,000: This is an expansion of an existing program that provides weekend meals to children at risk for hunger when school meals are not available. The number of schools receiving meals will be expanded, and meals will include at least two pieces of fresh produce.

The 2017 grant application process will open in March.