New Giving Opportunity – The Franklin Community Wellness Fund
At Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare, we believe in supporting and extending generosity towards causes that work to better our community. One of the newest funds created by the Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare - Foundation for St. Francis and Franklin aims to support community wellness projects at our Franklin hospital. Along with our community partners, the Franklin Community Wellness Fund provides the building blocks to make our patients and neighbors in the Franklin community healthier now and into the future through health education and community strengthening projects. One such project is our Franklin Hospital Walking Path.
The Franklin Walking Path project is a new initiative spearheaded by a team of individuals at Franklin hospital representing a number of different departments, including Nutrition and Diabetes, Rehabilitation Services, The Wellness Team, Administration, Environmental Services, and Facilities/Grounds Keeping. The goal of the project is to create a one-mile concrete walking path around the Franklin hospital campus, including elements of exercise, healthy eating, environmental preservation and education.
Our hope is to turn the Franklin Walking Path into a space where our patients, associates and community members can come to find tranquility and perspective. In addition, one of our goals is to engage children within the Franklin and Oak Creek school districts to target a population of children that are becoming at higher risk for obesity-related health issues and have difficulty obtaining nutritious food. Lack of access contributes to poor diet, leading to higher levels of obesity, diabetes and heart disease. This however, is truly a preventable problem which the Franklin Walking Path project hopes to be able to address.
With the goals of reducing obesity and promoting healthy eating, our program would partner with the Franklin and Oak Creek schools, along with other organizations in our community, to bring grade-school level children in the spring to learn about gardening. Our vision is to include small gardening plots along sections of the walking path for fresh vegetables and herbs. The majority of children at this age have never gardened, and this hands-on experience will help them learn the value of growing your own vegetables, tending to a garden, and healthy eating. For example, students can plant tomatoes, onions, peppers and cilantro – the ingredients needed to make fresh salsa. In fall, these students would return to pick the vegetables they planted and learn how to prepare salsa, a healthy and tasty alternative to processed snacks.
Our hope is that, for children who are not often exposed to produce will realize that they enjoy vegetables. The process of growing, making and tasting the salsa will encourage them to eat vegetables more often. Children will then return home and encourage their parents to plant a garden and even ask them to purchase more produce.
Evidence shows that school-based garden programs have significant health effects on young people. Teaching youth how to plant and harvest their food helps them identify and become familiar with good and healthy food, especially those found in the gardens they are tending. Adding these foods to children’s diets is key to helping reduce obesity, introducing them to healthy foods and teaching them a lifetime hobby that also provides exercise.
This is just one way in which we hope to enrich the lives of those in our community through the implementation of the Franklin Walking Path. To learn more or to give to the Franklin Community Wellness Fund, visit us online or call 414-647-5124.