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by Staff Writer / Pittsburgh Penguins

Eating healthy and exercising will really pay off for approximately 300 Mercer County students in the near future, when their efforts will be rewarded with tickets to a Pittsburgh Penguins game, complements of UPMC Horizon.

Students in eight Mercer County school districts — including Farrell, Grove City, Commodore Perry, Reynolds, Hermitage, Sharpsville, West Middlesex, and Sharon, along with Keystone Charter School in West Salem Township and St. Michael School in Greenville — are participating in the initiative offered by UPMC Horizon and the Tickets for Kids Foundation to promote healthy eating and physical activity for fifth through eighth graders.

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) recently donated $1 million to the Tickets for Kids Foundation, which provided tickets to UPMC Horizon and other facilities within the UPMC network of hospitals, for the Dec. 16 Pittsburgh Penguins home game against the Buffalo Sabres. The Community Health Partnership of Mercer County, through its School Health Advisory Council, is distributing the tickets locally to the participating school districts.

UPMC’s generosity provided the opportunity for UPMC Horizon to offer the tickets to school children in Mercer County, in exchange for some healthy behavior. To qualify for a ticket, eligible students must journal one week’s worth of nutritious eating, which must include fruits and vegetables, and at least 10 minutes of physical activity each day outside of school activities. The districts will select students based on their progress.

“It seemed to have a great fit with the Mercer County School Health Advisory Council as a potential benefit to a simple health initiative,” says Albert Boland, Community Relations Specialist at UPMC Horizon and chairman of the Community Health Partnership of Mercer County. “We chose healthy eating and exercise because of the impact that inactivity and poor diet has had on youth nationwide … strong links between healthy diet, regular exercise, and improved academic performance have been identified along with improved behavior. With the mandate for schools to regulate body mass index and build wellness policies, this seemed to be the most logical initiative.”

For more information about UPMC Horizon’s Tickets for Kids initiative, call the Community Relations Department at 724-589-6824.

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