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John Rex Endowment Commits Long-Term Funding to Healthy Weight Initiative for Children

Schools, Communities and Medical Teams Awarded Grants to Initiate Behavioral Changes and Create an Environment to Encourage Healthy Choices and Active Lifestyle

Raleigh, NC, May 10, 2007 --( According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the growing obesity epidemic is one of the nation’s most pressing public health issues. In the initial phase of a long-term commitment to a Childhood Obesity Initiative, the John Rex Endowment has dedicated $2.5 million to combat childhood obesity. New grant recipients include 15 schools, five neighborhood projects, and additional funding for the expansion of a pediatric pre-diabetes screening program.

In the face of the alarming number of seriously overweight children, which has nearly tripled in North Carolina in the last two decades, the John Rex Endowment set a new priority in 2006 to determine the best way to use its resources to promote healthy weight in Wake County’s children.

“We recognize the community must work together to change an existing environment that promotes unhealthy food choices and a sedentary lifestyle,” said Kevin Cain, president and CEO of the John Rex Endowment. “Schools, families, communities, neighborhoods, policy makers, health care leaders and many others have critical roles to play. Although the basic solution may seem simple – to ensure children engage in more physical activity and eat healthier foods – those behavioral changes depend on long-term, coordinated and multi-pronged efforts and collaboration with multiple partners. We are committed to addressing this health concern by providing resources to initiate innovative programs and community-wide solutions.”

With an emphasis on employing proven models and strategies to effectively address the challenge of childhood obesity, the John Rex Endowment selected expert partners, including the Physical Activity Nutrition Branch of the N.C. Division of Public Health and the Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, to assist with selection, oversee grants and be actively involved through the duration of the grant programs.

The John Rex Endowment awarded the following grants through a competitive application process:

• $480,000 awarded as a second grant to support the WakeMed Pediatric Diabetes Program, led by Mark Piehl, MD. The additional grant funds will enable WakeMed to accommodate the increasing number of children referred to the program while providing continuity of care. The grant program includes the expansion of ENERGIZE!, a program dedicated to helping children ages 6 to 18 reduce the risk of developing diabetes, and the addition of Drive 2 Fitness, a community and school-based Fitness Forward program focused on educating and rewarding fitness and health among youth. Funds will also be used to increase the number of pre-diabetes screenings in Wake County Public Schools and physician offices.

• $600,000 total for five Eat Smart, Move More NC Active Community and Neighborhood Grants awarded to the North Carolina Museum of Art, the Town of Cary, the Town of Holly Springs, Gethsemane Seventh Day Adventist Church, and Triangle Transit Authority, with a focus on increasing access and reducing barriers to opportunities for active living. The grants will be administered by the N.C. Public Health Foundation and the Physical Activity and Nutrition Branch of the N.C. Division of Public Health.

• 15 Wake County Public School System elementary schools will receive a total of $450,000 ($10,000 per school annually for three years) from the John Rex Endowment as part of The Wake to Wellness Grants Program to support the development of programs that create healthier school environments. An additional $450,000 will be awarded to 15 schools in 2008. The Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will oversee the grants and actively assist participating schools.

Additional information about each specific grant project is available upon request at 919-571-3392.

John Rex Endowment
The John Rex Endowment invests in the development and support of activities, programs and organizations that improve the health of underserved people in Wake and surrounding counties. Currently, the Endowment supports visible and measurable improvements in the health of children by improving access to health services, by promoting healthy behaviors and by providing children with opportunities for growth and development. For more information, visit

Contact Information
Anita Blomme
Kevin Cain
President and CEO
John Rex Endowment

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