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Monday, Sep 25, 2023

Students Get Nourished by Big Health Care Grant

Northridge Hospital Medical Center has received a grant for more than $660,000 to fight childhood obesity. The grant was the second such award given to the organization by United Healthcare Services Inc. of Minneapolis. In 2008, the program received $593,000. The hospital, owned by Dignity Health of San Francisco, will use the money to fund physical education and nutrition programs at about 20 Los Angeles Unified School District elementary schools within the San Fernando Valley. Bonnie Bailer, director of the center of healthier communities at the medical center, said the grant will help provide more than 600 teachers with physical education and nutrition curricula training, as well as hire two full-time faculty to conduct a comprehensive program at eight of the schools. “Elementary schools really need these programs,” Bailer said. “It’s very important for kids to start learning about healthy living early.” Burton Street Elementary School in Panorama City and Noble Avenue Elementary in North Hills are among the schools where the two teachers will organize the comprehensive program. The grant specifically targeted underserved communities, as budget cuts in the school district have had a big impact on health and wellness, said Bailer. Matthew Yi, director of public relations in California for United Healthcare, said studies have shown that children who have health and weight issues are more likely to remain overweight as adults. “It’s important to help get kids active,” he said. “Programs like this are a priority.” Bailer said that in addition to the faculty the grant will fund, nutrition and fitness assemblies will take place at all 20 schools for some 19,000 fourth and fifth grade students. The childhood obesity program has an annual budget of about $700,000. This year, Bailer said the amount has reached the $1 million mark. “These schools are extremely fortunate that companies recognize how big the need is,” she said. College Prep The Boys & Girls Club of the West Valley has received a $25,000 grant from Wells Fargo & Co. to fund its College Bound program. The program is designed to give students at all levels the information they need to get into college and the workforce. Marla Clemow, the bank’s L.A. regional president, said students can benefit from considering college as early as elementary school. “It’s about giving hope,” she said. “This program gives kids something to strive for and provides them with a goal.” Clemow said the San Francisco bank plans to contribute more than $2 million to non-profits in the San Fernando Valley this year and $20 million countywide. The College Bound program has an annual budget of about $100,000, according to Jan Sobel, chief executive at the West Valley Boys & Girls Club. “A majority of our members don’t even consider college as an option,” she said. “This helps plan for their futures, regardless of what stage they are at.” The club, established in 1992, has more than 3,400 members. More than 150 children visit its main offices in Canoga Park each day, with more than 550 involved in after-school activities at nine school sites. It has a $1.5 million annual budget. Sending Smiles Two recent fundraisers put on by Cydcor LLC have helped the Westlake Village company pass the $100,000 mark in a campaign to assist an international charity. The events were organized to benefit Operation Smile of Norfolk, Va., which pays for surgery for children suffering from cleft lip and cleft palate. A bowling night in March raised $880 and a movie night in February, which took place at Muvico in Thousand Oaks, raised $755. The events were put on by the corporate office, assisted by branches nationwide. “A little bit at a time has really added up quickly. It’s great to be a part of something with such a global impact,” said Gail Michalak, vice president of marketing. Cydcor provides outsourced sales services to companies, and has more than 300 independently owned corporate licensee sales offices. The company’s goal is to raise $400,000. Staff Reporter Elliot Golan can be reached at (818) 316-3123 or egolan@sfvbj.com

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