This is the fifth of six articles regarding Heartland Health’s sponsorships of St. Joseph Mustangs baseball and the Kansas City Chiefs summer training camp. The Mustangs’ season started May 26. They played a total of 46 games; 26 in St. Joe at Phil Welch Stadium and 20 away games.
For this particular campaign, Heartland’s call to action was to become a fan on Facebook and Heartland would donate a window fan to members of our community who are less fortunate and struggling to stay cool. The response was tremendous. As of Monday, July 25, more than 1,000 people have become our fan response from the community. Heartland made a donation of 119 fans to InterServ, which has distributed nearly half of these fans, and a cash donation of more than $15,000 so that InterServ can continue to buy not only box fans, but air conditioners for those who are most at–risk. According to InterServ Associate Director Jeannie Archer, the campaign is a windfall for the agency, and they are thinking creatively about how the funds will be used, including a winter coat drive this fall.
Heartland is a key sponsor of the Mustangs as well as the Chiefs summer training camp because we know how important both are to the vitality of the community. Commercials featuring people who have taken this philosophy to heart will appear during the months of July and August on cable and local television stations. This is the “story behind the story” of Scarlytt Long, a 10–year–old Coleman student. This year, Scarlytt participated in the 4th Grade Challenge, an innovative partnership between Heartland Health, the St. Joseph School District and local business community designed to address the increasing problem of childhood obesity. Among school children nationally, 33 percent meet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) definition of obese and more than two–thirds are considered overweight.
The 4th Grade Challenge is a program created for children who are Scarlytt’s age and making decisions for themselves. Motivating children early in life, before bad habits have become ingrained, is one of the ways Heartland Health is actively working to improve the health of our community. The program uses fun, hands–on activities as mechanisms for learning.
Scarlytt’s favorite part of the 4th Grade Challenge was wearing the “fat suit.” The fat suit is a vest that holds weight. The children put the vest on and then have races to see what it is like to carry around extra weight. “If you get overweight,” Scarlytt reports, “it’s harder to do anything.” For many children who take part in the 4th Grade Challenge, the fat suit is definitely a highlight of the program. However, they also learn new exercises, how to read food labels and how to pick a healthy meal at a restaurant, during this eight–week program.
Her family was already pretty health conscious, Scarlytt says, but now they read food labels even more closely, and she eats less junk food. Monday through Thursday, you’ll find her at Arising Stars doing gymnastics. As she enters 5th Grade, Scarlytt will have her Body Mass Index measured again (she was measured last year during the program) to determine overall results from year–to–year.