Partnership Will Strengthen School Wellness Programming in Iowa

June 23, 2020, 1:00 pm | Rachel Sweeney, Laura Paulsen, Gregory Welk

AMES, Iowa – It is said that prevention is the best medicine, and that is the goal of a new partnership between Iowa State University Extension and Outreach and the Iowa Heart Center Foundation.

The Iowa Heart Center Foundation will provide support for the SWITCH (School Wellness Integration Targeting Child Health) program. SWITCH is an evidence-based, school wellness initiative designed to help schools promote healthy lifestyles for youth. Through SWITCH, students learn to “switch what they Do, View, and Chew,” and schools learn how to plan, build and evaluate school wellness programming.

youth runners for SWITCH program.“SWITCH is excited to be partnering with the Iowa Heart Center Foundation. This partnership provides financial support for program coordination and evaluation efforts and will foster creation of additional heart health education components to enhance SWITCH," said Gregory Welk, principal investigator on the SWITCH project and director of the Iowa State University Translational Research Network.

Laura Jackman, program coordinator with Iowa Heart Center Foundation said, “Empowering Iowans of all ages to make healthy lifestyles choices is an investment in heart disease prevention. We believe in the great work happening across Iowa schools and communities through SWITCH. This new partnership is an opportunity for us to share heart health education with the youth of our state and further our mission.”

SWITCH was developed to help schools comply with federal requirements for school wellness. It was then refined through a series of pilot studies to establish an evidence-based training and implementation process that can be broadly disseminated across the state. SWITCH is now available to all Iowa schools through coordination from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach's 4-H Youth Development program. The partnership with the Iowa Heart Center Foundation will strengthen the clinical aspects of SWITCH programming and the ongoing dissemination through 4-H will help to promote heart health and obesity prevention in youth across the state.

Promoting school wellness is a high priority for schools, since research has clearly documented associations between healthy lifestyles and academic achievement. To learn more or to inquire about bringing the SWITCH program to your school, please visit


SWITCH (School Wellness Integration Targeting Child Health) is an innovative school wellness initiative designed to support and enhance school wellness programming. Through SWITCH, schools can help students to "switch what they Do, View, and Chew!" SWITCH is managed by an interdisciplinary research team in partnership with the 4-H Youth Development Program through Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. Schools are provided with resources, training and support, but have autonomy to run programming in ways that best fit their unique needs and goals.

About Iowa Heart Center Foundation

The Iowa Heart Center Foundation is a nonprofit arm of Iowa Heart Center dedicated to providing community-based services and educational programs that inspire Iowans to lead a heart-healthy life. With a vision that every heart is a healthy heart, Iowa Heart Center Foundation is focused on heart disease prevention, cardiac emergency response and providing continuing education in the field of cardiology. Iowa Heart Center was founded in 1970 and is one of the nation’s premier cardiovascular medicine practices, offering a full range of cutting-edge treatment options, complemented with clinical research and prevention services. Iowa Heart Center has 10 primary locations and 30+ outreach facilities throughout the state, making it the region's largest cardiovascular care provider.



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