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Grant awarded to MCVTS to improve student health

Grant awarded to MCVTS to improve student health

The Piscataway Campus of the Middlesex County Vocational and Technical Schools has been awarded a state grant to host a three-year pilot program aimed at improving the health of students to bolster academic performance.

The Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child Health Project, funded by the state Department of Health, hopes to combat chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension and help students understand the connection between health and academic achievement.

Dr. Tracey Maccia, MCVTS director of special education and the project director for the $15,000 grant, said she was encouraged to apply by Empower Somerset, a nonprofit that previously conducted a yoga program on the Piscataway Campus that was funded by a Sustainable Jersey for Schools grant.

She said the new program is based on the idea that healthy children learn better. The first year of the program will involve hiring a team leader to gather data and develop a school health profile, Maccia said.

In subsequent years, a team of school personnel will act on the data to try to reduce absenteeism and address other issues.

The pilot program was developed in response to statement by the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors that said there must be support at the administrative level and a commitment to change to sustain healthy schools.

“I’m looking forward to our students’ learning that there is a connection between their health and their success in school,” Maccia said.

She said an application has been submitted for a grant to initiate a similar program at the Middlesex County Academy for Allied Health and Biomedical Sciences in Woodbridge.

Empower Somerset partners with the state Department of Health to encourage the prevention of disease and addiction, and to promote physical and emotional health through education.