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For Release: Aug. 1, 2011 – Pamela Williams, Office of Communications – (405) 271-5601

New Certified Healthy Oklahoma Programs Launched

In an effort to improve the health of Oklahomans, the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) today launched two new programs designed to enhance health and wellness activities provided through schools and local communities.

The Certified Healthy Schools and Certified Healthy Communities programs will provide opportunities for schools and communities to achieve certification in activities they provide to Oklahomans to improve their health and the health of others. The programs will build upon the Certified Healthy Businesses initiative, an innovative public-private partnership that recognizes workplaces that provide healthy living options for their employees. More than 900 businesses now participate in this program. In 2010, the Oklahoma Legislature passed HB 2774, authored by State Rep. Kris Steele, which expanded the program to include Certified Healthy Schools and Certified Healthy Communities.

Application criteria for schools seeking to become a Certified Healthy School include demonstrating the availability of health education, physical education, health services, nutrition services, counseling, psychological and social services, healthy and safe school environment, health promotion for staff, and community involvement being offered at a school site.

Application criteria for communities seeking to become a Certified Healthy Community include addressing such issues as tobacco and alcohol use prevention, improving nutrition and physical activity, addressing built environments and transportation, health services, and community education offered within a community site.

Criteria details and application information for both Certified Healthy Schools and Certified Healthy Communities are available at www.okturningpoint.org. Each program has three levels of certification: Basic, Merit and Excellence. Applications must be submitted by Nov. 1, 2011, for certification consideration and recognition at a special ceremony scheduled in Oklahoma City in March 2012.

“We hope Oklahoma’s schools and communities will take advantage of this opportunity to be acknowledged as a major partner in helping Oklahomans Shape Their Future,” said Kathy Payne, director of Health Promotion, OSDH Community Development Service. “Becoming a Certified Healthy School or Certified Healthy Community allows schools and local communities to serve as exemplary models and to encourage other schools and communities to get involved.”

For more information about any of the Certified Healthy Oklahoma programs, contact Whitney Kemp, OSDH Community Development Services, (405) 271-9444, ext. 56433.

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