SHERMAN– Officials from Governor Rod R. Blagojevich’s Administration today announced more than $1.5 million in Women’s Health Initiative Grants for non-profit organizations, health departments and service agencies in Illinois. The grants will help institute educational programs about menopause, cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis. This latest grant announcement continues to strengthen the Governor’s commitment to improving the overall picture of healthcare in Illinois.
“These grants help support local programs so that women of all ages receive the information they need to prevent and fight breast cancer, heart disease, cervical cancer or osteoporosis. This is the same reason I increased funding for the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program in this year’s budget, so more women can afford to get important screenings that could save their lives,” said Gov. Blagojevich.
Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Eric E. Whitaker made the announcement this morning at Sherman Elementary School. The announcement follows the Governor’s recent decision to expand funding for the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program (IBCCP) to provide mammograms, breast exams, pelvic exams and Pap tests for all uninsured Illinois women, regardless of income.
The Illinois Department of Public Health’s Office of Women’s Health administers the Women’s Health Initiative grants, which are awarded to organizations that implement programs that provide guidance on issues related to nutrition, exercise, risk assessment, treatment options and prevention strategies.
The Office of Women’s Health recognizes the need to educate the public about the benefits of healthy lifestyles and that positive behavioral changes can help improve and prevent a variety of chronic conditions,” said Dr. Whitaker. “We’ve added two new programs this year, LifeSmart for Women and BodyWorks to address women’s comprehensive health and obesity in adolescent girls.”
The Sangamon County Health Department received $25,000 for its Heart Smart for Teens program. Heart Smart for Teens is a nine-week program that educates 5th-9th grade girls on the risk factors of cardiovascular disease and teaches them the importance of a healthy diet and physical activity.
“Heart Smart for Teens gives girls an early start at learning heart-healthy eating and exercise habits. The girls are introduced in the classroom to foods they may have never tried before and also have the chance to participate in exercises that are fun and a great workout at the same time. All activities are hands-on, which makes it easier for the girls to recreate the snacks and exercises at home. All of the new information we believe will empower the girls to confidently and consciously make better eating and lifestyle choices,” said Michelle Burger, health educator for the Sangamon County Department of Public Health.
The Women’s Health Initiative Grants are funded through state general revenue funds and include eight programs.
- Heart Smart for Women, a 12-week community-based program designed to change unhealthy behavior while promoting the benefits of exercise and nutrition.
- Heart Smart for Teens, a nine-week nutrition and exercise curriculum geared to school-aged girls.
- Building Better Bones, a program for women that offers group education sessions as well as bone density screenings for osteoporosis.
- Osteoporosis Prevention for Teens, a program targeting high school freshman and sophomore students that includes a presentation on osteoporosis and several activities which include a nutrition demonstration and exercises to promote bone building.
- Jump Girl Jump, a four-session structured jump rope and nutrition program for grade school girls designed to create awareness of bone health, physical activity, and the importance of calcium intake.
- Understanding Menopause, a program that offers educational sessions that help women understand peri-menopause and menopause and inform them about related health issues.
- LifeSmart for Women, is a 10-week comprehensive education curriculum covering a variety of women’s health topics including cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, nutrition, fitness, stress, substance abuse, violence against women, sexual health, aging and family health and is appropriate to a widely diverse audience of women.
- BodyWorks, a Toolkit for Healthy Girls and Strong Women is an obesity prevention program to help parents and caregivers of adolescent girls improve family eating and exercise habits.
Gov. Blagojevich has made other significant contributions to promote and improve women’s health including:
- Increased funding for IBCCP: Governor Blagojevich has announced he will increase funding for the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program (IBCCP) to provide mammograms, breast exams, pelvic exams and Pap tests for all uninsured Illinoisans. The program currently serves low- income, uninsured women. This expansion is expected to provide access to screenings for 261,000 women in Illinois. If diagnosed with breast or cervical cancer upon screening, program participants will have access to coverage for treatment. Last year, Governor Blagojevich allocated $2.1 million in new funding to increase eligibility for life-saving breast and cervical cancer screenings to women with incomes up to 250% of the federal poverty level. Since the Governor has been in office, more than 52,250 women, 48 percent of whom are minorities, received free screenings through IBCCP.
- Stand Against Cancer Initiative: Beginning in 2003, Gov. Blagojevich funded the Stand Against Cancer Initiative (SAC), a community outreach and screening program targeting the hardest to reach minority women. It is conducted by a coalition of neighborhood organizations, churches and Federally Qualified Health Centers. In fiscal year 2007, SAC provided more than 23,900 breast and cervical cancer screenings and reached more than 324,225 other women through educational programs and outreach.
- Hispanic Breast and Cervical Cancer Initiative: In 2005, Gov. Blagojevich launched the Hispanic Breast and Cervical Cancer initiative, which is closely patterned after the Stand Against Cancer initiative. Women screened through the initiative who subsequently need diagnostic tests are referred to local IBCCP lead agencies.
- Illinois WISEWOMAN Program: Providing the WISEWOMAN cardiovascular research program in both English and Spanish languages in 21 Illinois counties. The project is targeted toward women enrolled in the Breast and Cervical Cancer Program and helps them reduce heart disease by leading healthier lifestyles.
- Women’s Health-Line: Increased access to services through Women’s Health-Line and other informational resources. In FY07, the state-funded toll-free Women’s Health-Line responded to almost 6,000 calls, referring women to services and providing more than 270,000 free educational materials to women and community providers. These materials are also available through the department’s website.
For more information on women’s health and programs offered through the Illinois Department of Public Health visit www.idph.state.il.us
or call the Women’s Health-line at 888-522-1282 or for TTY, (hearing impaired use only) 800-547-0466.