Tom Harkin - U.S. Seante

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WASHINGTON, DC -– Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today announced that the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) will begin accepting applications for Harkin Wellness Grants. The grants are the latest Harkin initiative to promote healthier lifestyles by helping dozens of local governments, community organizations, and non-profits develop creative approaches to promoting healthier lifestyles. Harkin, the senior Democrat on the panel that funds health care initiatives, secured $3 million in the FY 2005 omnibus appropriations for the grant program.

“Promoting healthy lifestyles and preventing chronic disease will not be accomplished quickly or simply,” said Harkin. “Achieving these goals will require a comprehensive approach that, rather than focusing on sickness, encourages wellness and integrates healthy choices into individual’s daily lives. I am pleased that communities across the state will have an opportunity to be proactive and focus on prevention and wellness.”

Eligible applicants include community organizations such as counties, townships, cities or subdivisions; licensed child care facilities, educational agencies, health care providers, community-based nonprofit organizations including faith-based groups and agricultural associations. “Communities across Iowa have unique ideas to promote healthy lifestyles among their citizens,” Harkin said. “I am excited to kick-off this grant program, so that these communities are given the tools needed in order to reach their goals.”

Harkin Wellness Grant funds can be used for projects such as building bike paths, purchasing fitness equipment, or expanding existing programs and must focus on one or more of four priorities in the HeLP America Act: nutrition, physical activity, mental health, and smoking cessation.

“While healthy behaviors are ultimately a personal choice, a supportive community that provides healthy options can make lifestyle changes easier,” said Dr. Mary Mincer Hansen, Director of the Iowa Department of Public Health. “The Harkin Wellness Grant program is an innovative approach using a federal-state-local partnership as a model for creating healthy and vibrant communities in Iowa.”

Proposals for the Harkin Wellness Grants Applications are due by July 15, 2005 and grant awards will be announced in August 2005. Grantees will be eligible for up to $250,000 in funding, depending on the size and scope of the community’s project. At least 36 grants plan to be awarded. For more information on how to qualify and apply for a Harkin Wellness Grant, visit or call IDPH at 515-281-7689.

In addition to the Harkin Wellness Grants, Harkin also introduced the 2005 Healthy Lifestyles and Prevention (HeLP) America Act. This comprehensive legislation seeks to prevent obesity and other preventable chronic conditions. The 2005 HeLP America Act recognizes the challenges of chronic disease and health promotion and provides all sectors – child care centers, schools, workplaces, and communities -with the tools that they need to reach the goal of making America a healthier place.

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