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updated: 9/13/2012 4:11 PM

Kane-area agencies get grants to improve health

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Five agencies received money this week from Kane County's "Creating Healthier Communities" program.

The awards are for projects that take aim at chronic diseases.

The county's Community Health Improvement Plan identifies chronic diseases, such as diabetes and obesity, as being among six major health risks to county residents.

The American Public Health Association gave the Kane County Health Department $40,000 for the grants. Kane was one of six health departments, out of 121 applicants, to get money.

The Kane County Planning Cooperative recommended who should get the money, and the Kane County Regional Plan Commission approved them in August.

Recipients are:

Campton Hills, which will receive $5,000 to develop a plan for biking, walking and horse trails to connect to the Great Western Trail and to two elementary schools.

Active Transportation Alliance, which will receive $5,000 to analyze the seven Metra stations in Kane County to see how accessible they are to bicyclists and pedestrians.

Elgin Community Garden Network, which will get $5,000 to use social media to raise residents' awareness of the gardens.

St. Charles Park District, which will receive two $5,000 grants. One will be for developing QR codes of trail and exercise paths, printing materials about the paths, installing fitness kiosks at four parks, and engineering for the paths. The second is for an engineering study to find out what it would cost to extend a water main to proposed community gardens at River Bend Park.

• Kane County will get $5,600 to work with Aurora, St. Charles and Dundee townships on identifying the need for and making plans to improve walking conditions and "active living opportunities" in unincorporated areas.

The rest of the money is for Kane County health and transportation employees who work on the "Creating Healthier Communities" program.

The recipients must supply a 50 percent match, either in cash or in-kind donations. And the work must be done by Dec. 31.

The county's 2040 land-use plan calls for making municipal biking and walking plans, establishing and expanding community gardens, having more smoke-free sites, coming up with Safe Routes to School plans for all school districts, achieving Agriculture Department's Healthier U.S. School Challenge standards in all school districts, and instituting workplace wellness policies.

"The key is the partners. Now more than ever, we need to integrate health, transportation and land-use planning," said Mark Van Kerkhoff, Kane County's development department director.

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