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Junior Blind of America, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping children and adults who are blind, visually impaired or multi-disabled achieve independence, will be awarded a $25,000 grant by the Aetna Foundation at the organization’s annual Children’s Halloween Carnival on October 26.
The funding will allow Junior Blind to offer its healthy living after school program free of charge to both sighted and visually impaired children from low-income families. The after school program combines nutrition education, community gardening and physical activities that can help children develop healthy eating and exercise habits that can lead to better health over their lifetimes. Kids learn how to make healthy meals in Junior Blind’s adaptive kitchens and participate in at least one hour of sports and physical activity daily at the nonprofit’s multi-sensory playground, aquatics center and other adaptive athletic facilities.
“Childhood obesity has become a national epidemic with devastating long-term consequences,” said Miki Jordan, president & CEO of Junior Blind. “We are especially concerned for the children we serve. They already face limited opportunities for physical activity due to their vision loss, and many come from a community where one in three children is considered to be obese.”
Junior Blind’s After School Enrichment Program (ASEP) brings together children who are blind or visually impaired with peers who are sighted and offers them a curriculum revolved around healthy living. The only program of its kind in Los Angeles, ASEP serves 80 children, ages eight to 13, on Junior Blind’s campus in South Los Angeles—a community with the highest childhood obesity rate in Los Angeles County. Additionally, nearly 90 percent of the children enrolled in ASEP come from low-income families and minority backgrounds.
“We are grateful to the Aetna Foundation for their support of our efforts to help children whose disability, life circumstance and community put them at greater risk for childhood obesity and future health problems,” said Jordan.