Michigan Surgeon General to Visit "Generation With Promise" Schools in Benton Harbor

Contact: Pam Woodley (313) 378-6733
Agency: Community Health

August 31, 2009

Michigan Surgeon General Dr. Kimberlydawn Wisdom will visit Benton Harbor, Mich. where she will tour two schools each awarded $25,000 as part of the Generation With Promise (GWP) project for the 2009-2010 school year. This is the third year that Fair Plain Renaissance Middle School and Hull Middle School will receive the funds supporting efforts to prevent childhood obesity and smoking among students. Dr. Wisdom's trip will take place Tues., Sept. 1-Wed., Sept. 2 and will include a presentation about GWP to the Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education.

The program, directed by Dr. Wisdom, is funded by a $5 million grant from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation and organized through the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH). The project links Governor Granholm's Cities of Promise initiative in underserved communities with MDCH and the "Michigan Steps Up" healthy lifestyles initiative. The four-year project empowers Student Action Teams to drive change related to health priorities for their schools. Sixteen schools in Detroit, Pontiac, Benton Harbor, Highland Park, and Hamtramck have received GWP grants of $25,000 for each year they are involved in the project.

Fair Plain and Hull student teams have already achieved results through the program. The student team at Fair Plain has posted signs throughout the building that identify the school as a smoke/drug-free zone and half of the students participate in physical education each day.

Hull's leadership training inspired their student team to get healthy foods added to the school menu, purchase a salad bar, and serve breakfast in the classroom. In addition, since physical activity was added to the afterschool program, attendance has increased.

"I'm looking forward to seeing the progress these amazing young people have made in their schools as they grow as leaders among their peers," said Dr. Wisdom. "The changes these students are making today will mean they'll make healthier choices in the future. That will have a lasting impact on the Benton Harbor community."

Dr. Wisdom served as the health team leader for the Governor's Benton Harbor Task Force that was organized immediately after the civil unrest in June 2003. As part of her visit, Dr. Wisdom will get a tour of the city to see the progress that has been made over the last six years and she will receive recognition from the city on Tues., Sept.1. Her itinerary also includes an update on the overall health of the county from the Berrien County Board of Health on Wed., Sept. 2.

In addition to the Governor's Cities of Promise, other GWP partners are the Governor's Council on Physical Fitness; Health & Sports/Michigan Fitness Foundation; Michigan Department of Education; Michigan Action for Healthy Kids Coalition; Detroit, Wayne, Oakland, and Berrien County health departments; Healthy Kids Healthy Michigan Coalition; Henry Ford Health System; the Michigan State University Extension; University of Michigan and Wayne State University.

About the W.K. Kellogg Foundation

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation was established in 1930 "to help people help themselves through the practical application of knowledge and resources to improve their quality of life and that of future generations." The Foundation targets its grants toward specific areas, including health, food systems and rural development, youth and education, and philanthropy and volunteerism. Grants are concentrated in the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the southern African countries of Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe.

For further information, please visit the Foundation's Web site at www.wkkf.org.