Urban Initiatives is thrilled to partner with the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) for the upcoming school year! The IDHS has graciously granted UI $20,000 in the area of Community Health and Prevention in support of our health and education soccer program at Otis School. The new partnership marks UI’s first public funding as well as a valuable relationship as both organizations are working hard to combat the childhood obesity epidemic in Illinois. Specifically the funds will help UI to impact the West Town community – where Otis is located – where obesity is a deeply rooted problem.
The funding from the IDHS will enhance the health of the students at Otis by meeting unmet needs in the community. For example, the Work to Play Program addresses the greater community need for health and education programming. Otis was selected partially as a result of the prevalence of obesity and obesity related issues in the West Town community. In West Town, 50% of children are overweight and 20% are at risk of overweight. Furthermore, 20% of the students surveyed in West Town by Sinai had physician-diagnosed asthma and 8% screened positive for asthma based on survey questions (the U.S. average is 12%). Structured programming like our Work to Play Program can aid the children in the community to overcoming barriers to physical activity. Hopefully by educating children when they are young we will help to reverse the prevalence of obesity in the community and prevent the onset of obesity by targeting children during the early stages of development so they do not join the 49% of West Town adults that are obese and the 16% that are overweight.