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Doherty gets healthy grant from state group; Program to fight obesity in youth.

Byline: Jacqueline Reis

Two Central Massachusetts schools have received grants of $3,000 each to help students improve their health.

Doherty Memorial High School in Worcester and B.F. Brown Arts Vision School in Fitchburg, which serves Grades 5-8, will get the grants from Massachusetts Action for Healthy Kids, which received the funding from Kellogg's Corporate Citizenship Fund. Massachusetts Action for Healthy Kids is part of a national grass-roots movement addressing the issue of overweight, undernourished and sedentary youth by focusing on changes at school.

It will be up to students to figure out how to spend the grant. "They'll decide this school year what changes they're going to make," said Vanessa Cavallaro, co-chairwoman of Massachusetts Action for Healthy Kids. "It could be around food, healthy snacks, revamping the school store ... (or) trying to get the gym available, the fields available in the evening."

Ten percent of middle school students and 11 percent of high school students are obese, and only 10 percent of high school students eat the recommended five or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day, according to Mass. Action.

In Worcester, high schools take varying approaches to physical education, although all high school students must take it once a year. Some schools have it every day for a semester, while others do it twice a week all year, said Colleen O'Brien, the district's director of health, physical education, intramural and interscholastic athletics.

It is also up to each school to decide how much junk food should be available to students, although students typically don't have access to soft drinks during the school day, said nutrition director Donna Lombardi.

At B.F. Brown, students take physical education every day for one quarter each year, and the Fitchburg School Committee has ended candy fundraisers and the sale of soft drinks during the school day, Principal Craig S. Chalifoux said. The school nurse, Jackie Lessard, and physical education teacher, Joyce Baker, pursued the grant, he said.

The two Central Massachusetts schools are among five statewide that are receiving grants this year from Mass. Action. The others are in Boston and Brockton.

Contact Jacqueline Reis at jreis@telegram.com.
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Title Annotation:LOCAL NEWS
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Aug 1, 2007
Words:360
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