Michigan Health Endowment Fund awards more than $745,000 to Wayne State University

The Michigan Health Endowment Fund awarded more than $745,000 in July 2023 to two Wayne State University projects focusing on health and nutrition.

The awards are part of the Health Fund's Nutrition and Healthy Lifestyles initiative, which funds projects that make healthy lifestyles more accessible to seniors, children and their families. The two Wayne State projects previously received Health Fund grants, and each team will scale their work and address different aspects of health and nutrition across the lifespan.

"Wayne State's projects offer a compelling vision for partnering with Detroit communities in novel and lasting ways to increase access to opportunities for physical activity and nutrition," said Laurie Solotorow, director of the Health Fund's Nutrition and Healthy Lifestyles program. "We're excited to support these community-driven approaches to health and look forward to tracking and learning from the impacts that emerge from this work."

Citizenship for Health
The Citizenship for Health project received $499,705 to expand the Citizen Deliberation for Healthy Neighborhoods program. This grant will be used to continue activities in Detroit's HOPE Village neighborhood along with replicating it in three additional communities, two in the city of Detroit and one in the city of Burton in Genesee County.

"The Health Fund's generous award affords us the opportunity to continue to expand our effort to deepen democratic deliberative practices in additional communities," said Pradeep Sopory, professor and interim chair of the Department of Communication. "We seek to empower residents to develop and implement projects to improve nutrition and physical fitness within their neighborhoods. One of the key elements lies in that we recognize that community members are the experts in their own lives, their neighbors' lives, and the life of the community itself."

Through the Citizenship for Health program's deliberative democracy model, residents lead, develop, implement and sustain solutions to poor diet and insufficient physical activity to improve their mental and physical health. The deliberation process empowers residents to take an active role in advancing their community's health while building social cohesion.

"Embracing the idea of community engagement, community members develop solutions that are carefully focused and visible and have a high degree of likelihood for success. With the ideas having been generated by the community, these changes are likely to be more readily integrated into daily living, with a greater likelihood of continuation after the end of the project. This strong reliance on the expertise of the community members is what separates our work from other projects that embrace the idea of community engagement," said Marc Kruman, distinguished professor and director of the Center for the Study of Citizenship.

Physical Literacy and Nutrition Education 2.0 Program
The Physical Literacy and Nutrition Education 2.0 (PLANE 2.0) program, which received a $250,000 grant, will expand to serve more autistic children in diverse community settings. Through expansion, the successful program strives to reduce health disparities and improve trajectories of health among children and their caregivers.

"We are so grateful that the Michigan Health Endowment Fund shares our vision for improving the physical literacy and nutrition education for families of autistic children in and around Detroit," said Leah Ketcheson, assistant professor and program coordinator of health and physical education. "We are very proud to partner with community organizations in the city to bring this important work into our local neighborhoods. Wayne State University's health and physical education pre-service teachers and many other student volunteers from the Division of Kinesiology, Health and Sport Studies will serve as volunteers creating a pipeline of support to implement these health programs in accessible and inclusive environments."

Michigan Health Endowment Fund
The Michigan Health Endowment Fund works to improve the health and wellness of Michigan residents and reduce the cost of health care, with a special focus on children and seniors. You can find more information about the Health Fund at www.mihealthfund.org.

Wayne State University
Wayne State University is a premier urban research institution offering approximately 350 academic programs through 13 schools and colleges to nearly 24,000 students.

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