Current Projects

Title: Valley Initiative to Advance Health and Learning in Schools (VITAHLS)
Status: Current
Topic: Nutrition / Diet;Physical Activity;School-based
Funding Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been the primary funding source, with supplemental funding in 2013-2014 from Griffin Hospital and the Jones Family Farm.
Funding Period: 2011-present
Study Design: N/A

The VITAHLS initiative, was founded in 2011 and is led by the PRC and Griffin Hospital in partnership with 5 Naugatuck Valley school districts and several community partners. Its purpose is to develop, implement, evaluate, and sustain a Valley-wide school-based childhood obesity prevention program to reduce the prevalence of obesity in students in grades Pre-K – 12.

Our school partners are the Ansonia, Derby, Seymour, Shelton and Naugatuck school districts, and Emmett O’Brien Regional Technical School. Our community partners include the Ansonia Charger Club, Ansonia Early Childhood Council, Derby Early Childhood Council, Massaro Community Farm, the Naugatuck Valley Health District, ShopRite Supermarket, and the Valley YMCA. 

Further Study Details:


  • To reduce the prevalence of obesity and to promote the health, well-being, and academic readiness of students enrolled in the 5 Valley school districts.
  • To develop a comprehensive and sustainable obesity prevention initiative that focuses on nutrition and physical activity for children in grade Pre-K through 12.
  • To extend the health promotion efforts to include parents/family and school staff.


  • To create an obesity prevention initiative designed to increase nutrition knowledge and healthy eating and increase physical activity within and outside of the school day.
  • To create and support a health promoting environment within the school setting.
  • To create programs/activities that can be easily incorporated into, and with minimal disruption, to the school day.
  • To include policy, environmental/structural and educational components.
  • To create programs/activities that are sustainable over time with little to no budget impact on schools, and /or Secure funding to support any program related costs.
  • To include and encourage participation at all levels – students, parents, family, teachers, staff.To increase community awareness of obesity and health related risks.
  • To communicate and promote effectively.
  • To evaluate the impact of the VITAHLS initiative.
  • To demonstrate improvement in the health of students by reducing the prevalence of obesity, and by reducing the average number of sick days per student.

Students in participating grades in participating schools in each district, and staff who take part in any VITAHLS-related wellness programs made available to the within their districts.

Evaluation: We will evaluate the long-term impact of this initiative by examining long-term trends in aggregate student data collected on an annual basis. These data include academic performance, school behavior, school attendance, physical fitness and body mass index (BMI). With the exception of BMI measures, these data are already reported to the CT State Department of Education.

Changed at: 3/1/2017 4:49 AM Changed by: Lisa Seaberg
Created at: 3/1/2017 4:38 AM Created by: Lisa Seaberg