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Western Heights Public Schools Honored for Work to Promote Health

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK  (September 14, 2015) – The Western Heights Public School District was presented with a $10,000 check Monday as part of the Healthy School District Incentive Grant program through the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET).

Tracey Strader, TSET Executive Director and Sharon Howard, TSET Healthy Schools Program Manager, presented a plaque and big check to Superintendent Joe Kitchens, members of the Western Heights Public Schools Board of Education and Hayden Roberts, Director of Community Programs. To receive the incentive grant, the Western Heights School District implemented strategies to promote health and wellness for students and staff. 

The district received $10,000 and will use TSET funds to leverage other resources to coordinate extracurricular programs that focus on healthy lifestyles, such as non-competitive physical education, hands-on nutrition and cooking classes, gardening and mental health support.

The afterschool activities are part of a comprehensive extra-curricular program designed to provide tutoring and extra-curricular academic assistance utilizing several community partners including:  Loveworks, Josh Heupel’s 14 Foundation, 4-H and Junior Master Gardeners through the OSU County Extension Program.  The afterschool program will serve up to 250 students in grades 3 through 6 at the districts’ five elementary school sites. The grant award was approved by the TSET Board of Directors in May.

The Healthy School District Incentive Grant criteria focus on strengthening district wellness policies to improve school nutrition, increase physical activity, and provide tobacco-free environments for students, staff, faculty and families.  These health-promoting practices and policies are recommended by the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) Coordinated School Health Model.  

“These grants recognize the efforts of schools and school districts that are actively promoting healthy lifestyles. Studies show that active, healthy kids perform better in school,” said Strader. “Habits formed early last a lifetime and we want to recognize schools that are making the healthy choice the easy choice for students, staff and the community.” 

Incentive grants for school districts are based on district enrollment and strategies implemented. Grant funds may be used for projects that advance health. TSET offers incentive grants to school districts that have Certified Healthy Schools in their District as part of the Certified Healthy Oklahoma program and have met TSET incentive grant criteria. Certified Healthy Oklahoma is a partnership between the Oklahoma Academy for State Goals, the Oklahoma Turning Point Council, the State Chamber and the Oklahoma State Department of Health.

TSET was created by a constitutional amendment in 2000 as a long term strategy to improve health and ensure settlement payments from a 1998 multi-state lawsuit against the tobacco industry are used to improve the health of all Oklahomans. The funds are placed in an endowment to ensure a growing funding source for generations to come. Only the earnings from the endowment are used to fund grants and programs.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                               
Julie Bisbee, julieb@tset.ok.gov
Direct: 405-521-4992
Cell: 405-301-3693

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The Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET) serves as a partner and bridge builder for organizations working towards shaping a healthier future for all Oklahomans. TSET provides leadership at the intersections of health by working across the state, by cultivating innovative and life-changing research, and by working across public and private sectors to develop, support, implement and evaluate creative strategies to take advantage of emerging opportunities to improve the public's health. TSET. Better Lives Through Better Health.