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Schools to benefit from health ed partnership

Junior Gonzalez
  • $30,000 will be spent to assist financially strapped school districts in receiving health ed programs.
  • The partnership between Ronald McDonald House Charities and the Byrnes Education Center will benefit 11 counties.

Cash-strapped schools in York and surrounding counties will have a new source for health and wellness education in the fall.

Students from Lincoln Charter School will be among several schools in the midstate to receive health education presentations as part of a new partnership between Ronald McDonald House Charities and the Byrnes Health Education Center.

The Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Pennsylvania has committed $30,000 to pay for educational health presentations by the Byrnes Health Education Center in schools facing financial constraints, according to a news release.

Schools in Adams, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Juniata, Lancaster, Lebanon, Mifflin, Perry, Schuylkill and York counties are eligible to receive funding through the partnership, according to the release. Applications are still being accepted for schools to receive health education presentations in the fall.

“We’re really excited about this funding,” said Anne Clark, director of community outreach at Lincoln Charter School.

Lincoln Charter School is one of the schools that would not have been able to afford the program if the partnership did not make the funding available, according to Clark.

“There’s no money in the budget for health (courses),” she said, but she added the need is urgent in urban districts that suffer higher levels of health problems, such as obesity and diabetes.

Nevertheless, the school is committed to finding sources of funding for health-related programs. “Lincoln prides itself on being a health champion for its students,” Clark said.

A student at Lincoln Charter School interacts with a program during an eye health presentation from the Byrnes Education Center.

As part of that mission, Lincoln Charter School hosted a Relay for Life Recess at 9:30 a.m. on Friday, June 2, to educate students on healthy physical and nutritional choices.

Critical opportunity: Karla Mitchell, executive director of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Pennsylvania, said half of the program’s $30,000 has already been spent this school year, including at Lincoln Charter School. She said the end-of-year health sessions help students make better choices while they are out of school.

“Personally, I think it’s critical to have a last opportunity to get that information before they head out for the summer break,” she said.

Mitchell said partnering with Byrnes fits with Ronald McDonald House’s mission to help children in need.

“There are so many families coming to our medical center with their kids who have medical problems,” she said, and preventative measures are just as important. “There’s an opportunity for us to make a difference.”

According to Mitchell, one of the most important aspects of health education is the funding to maintain its existence.

“For us, in conversations not only with Byrnes but with principals and superintendents of schools, it all comes down to funds,” she said.

'Thrilled': Anne Bahn, president and CEO of Byrnes Health Education Center, said schools were “thrilled beyond measure” when they found out they would receive funding for Byrnes health presentations.

Byrnes offers more than 90 programs that serve students from kindergarten through 12th grade, according to Bahn.

She recently visited Lincoln Charter School during a presentation by Byrnes staff to a group of third-graders to show them the functions of the eye.

Using the technology of the school’s touchscreen white boards and interactive software, the students saw the anatomy of the eye in a way they had never seen before, according to Bahn.

She said many of the students had expressions of awe and excitement during the presentation.

“That’s the kind of thing you want,” she said, “because that’s how they remember it.”