School receives grant to create Healthy Schools Corps program.

Sept. 1, 2015

School districts throughout South Central Indiana will now have an additional resource when it comes to keeping students healthy.

The Indiana University School of Public Health-Bloomington was recently awarded a three-year AmeriCorps grant from Serve Indiana to support a new Healthy Schools Corps program.

IU School of Public Health-Bloomington

The IU School of Public Health-Bloomington

Through a partnership with the School of Public Health and IU Health Bloomington, the Healthy Schools Corps program will place AmeriCorps members in 10 Indiana counties starting this fall.

"This is another way Indiana University is being proactive by partnering with IU Health and our local school systems to further promote health and wellness," said Linda Henderson, community relations specialists for the IU School of Public Health-Bloomington.

The AmeriCorps members will assist with recruiting and organizing volunteers on local wellness teams; completing school-based community needs assessments; and drafting coordinated school health plans.

Coordinated school health programs are proven to create a healthy school environment where students can excel, said David Lohrmann, chair of the Department of Applied Health Science at the School of Public Health, but many schools lack the resources to create these programs on their own.

A recent study of Indiana schools implementing coordinated school health programs revealed that the greatest challenges were lack of a central coordinator, inability to recruit volunteers external to the school and unstructured volunteer management. The Healthy Schools Corps hopes to fill those gaps.

"Having a coordinated effort to promote health and wellness in our school systems is critically important for our youth," said Carrie Docherty, interim associate dean for community and global engagement at the School of Public Health. "This program really provides the school systems an opportunity to create and implement a successful school health program."

AmeriCorp Logo

The AmeriCorps grant will help Indiana school districts create coordinated school health programs.

The AmeriCorps grant will help Indiana school districts create coordinated school health programs.

Lisa Petscher, manager of coordinated school health for IU Health Bloomington, will help coordinate the AmeriCorps members in each school. Funded by multiple community partners, including the IU School of Public Health-Bloomington, Petscher works with the Monroe County Community School Corp. to promote coordinated health programs.

The new AmeriCorps grant will help expand Petscher’s work into other school districts.

"Partnerships like this are essential," Petscher said. "It takes a village, and everyone needs to play a role in the health of future generations."

The award from Serve Indiana provides $145,729 in funding from the Corporation for National and Community Service, which the AmeriCorps program is a part of. The School of Public Health-Bloomington will provide $135,708 in matching funds.

AmeriCorps members are currently being hired and are expected to be in place in October.