FORT SMITH, Ark. — A $32.3 million anonymous donation to the Arkansas Colleges of Health Education will support a holistic approach to health and wellness and include partnerships with public schools, art centers, a community garden, and a Northwest Arkansas based culinary study center.
“We’ve been working on this since 2017 to pull all the pieces together,” ACHE CEO Kyle Parker told Talk Business & Politics on Tuesday (June 22). “This is a game changer, an absolute game changer.”
The donation creates an endowment that will pay for staff, program costs and construction. ACHE acquired the former Golden Living headquarters in 2020 for the purpose of housing a medical research facility and a health and wellness education center. Work on the five-story facility – now known as the ACHE Research Institute Health and Wellness Center – is underway and should be complete within two years, Parker said.
A unique food education program targeted to elementary students is one of the numerous programs, events and activities to be created by the donation announced Tuesday.
“Since 1990, our state has ranked in the bottom five states for health outcomes including health disparities and chronic disease. We have an amazing opportunity to promote healthy lifestyles through collaborative partnerships, civic engagement supporting health equity,” noted Dr. Elizabeth McClain, chief wellness officer at ACHE.
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