AFHK Montana

Montana Action for Healthy Kids

Montana AFHK is dedicated to improving the health and wellness of Montana’s children in schools and communities through nutrition and physical activity where children learn, participate in, and enjoy healthy lifestyle behaviors.

Montana Action for Healthy Kids (AFHK), a subcommittee of the national Action for Healthy Kids initiative, is a statewide coalition dedicated to improving the health and wellness of Montana’s children in schools and communities through nutrition and physical activity where children learn, participate in, and enjoy healthy lifestyle behaviors.  The goal of Montana AFHK is to provide simple, positive, consistent messages about nutrition and physical activity, while increasing physical activity opportunities for school aged children.  Creating parent-led projects at school and community levels and involving parents in creating healthier school and community environments for kids has led to increased support for healthy kids.  To share ideas and healthy lifestyle tips to parent and partner organization, Montana AFHK leads parent-focused presentations, develops and distributes educational materials, provides health training to teachers, and awards mini-grant programs to support nutrition and physical activity programs.  Montana AFHK also provides support to partner’s activities such as Big Sky Fit Kids.  In addition, Montana AFHK provides support to three local teams that have been created in Billings, Great Falls, and Helena to advocate for change at the local level.

For more information, please visit

or the national AFHK website at

MT CVD and Diabetes Prevention Program logo

Montana Cardiovascular Disease and Diabetes Prevention Program

Diverse Montana Communities Deliver Lifestyle Change Program to Prevent Diabetes

Since 2008, Montana communities have been helping prevent type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease among adults at high risk through the Montana Cardiovascular Disease and Diabetes Prevention Program (CVDDPP).  The 10-month CVDDPP is based upon research evidence that intensive lifestyle change can prevent or delay the development of diabetes by 58% among adults at high risk.1

Lifestyle coaches educate and motivate participants to develop and maintain healthier eating and physical activity habits, which lead to weight loss and control.  These lifestyle coaches are registered dietitians, registered nurses, cardiac rehabilitation nurses, and exercise specialists trained to deliver the CVDDPP.

Eligibility criteria for the CVDDPP are based upon risk factors for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.  Adults aged 18 years and over with a Body Mass Index (BMI) ≥25 kg/m2, medical clearance from a doctor, a commitment to lifestyle change, and one of the following may participate:

  • History of pre-diabetes, impaired glucose tolerance, or impaired fasting glucose
  • History of gestational diabetes or birth to a baby weighing >9 lbs
  • High blood pressure (≥130/85 mmHg or treatment)
  • Dyslipidemia (triglycerides >150 mg/dL, LDL cholesterol >130 mg/dL or treatment, or HDL cholesterol <40 mg/dL for men and <50 mg/dL for women)
  • A1C between 5.7% to 6.4%


In Montana, an estimated 185,000 adults over age 20 have pre-diabetes.3 The rate of diabetes reported by adult Montanans increased from 2.8% in 1990 to 7.0% in 2010.4  Based on these rates, it is estimated that nearly 70,000 adult Montanans have diagnosed diabetes.5  Over 8% of deaths in Montana are diabetes-related.6


Participating in the program is an effective way to slow these trends.  Over 2,000 Montanans have participated in the prevention program since it began in 2008.  Here are the average 10 month program results:

  • Weight loss of 15.4 lbs
  • Blood pressure reduction from 133/81 mmHg to 127/78 mmHg
  • LDL cholesterol reduction from 123 mg/dL to 119 mg/DL
  • HDL cholesterol increase from 49 mg/dL to 51 mg/dL
  • Fasting blood glucose reduction from 102 mg/dL to 97 mg/dL


Fourteen sites and four telehealth sites currently deliver the CVDDPP in communities designated8 as

  • Urban: Billings
  • Rural: Missoula, Kalispell, Great Falls, Helena, Butte, Bozeman
  • Frontier: Libby, Choteau, Dillon, Baker, Colstrip, Ekalaka, Forsyth,  Miles City


Go to to contact the site near you, read news and journal articles, and learn more.  For more information, contact Diane Arave, the Montana Diabetes Project Quality Improvement Specialist in Prevention, at or (406) 444-0593.


References and Data Sources

1. Knowler WC, Barrett-Connor E, Fowler SE, Hamman RF, Lachin JM, Walker EA, Nathan DM; Diabetes Prevention Program Research Group: Reduction in the incidence of type 2 diabetes with lifestyle intervention or metformin. N Engl J Med 2002;346:393–402.

2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National diabetes fact sheet: national estimates and general information on diabetes and prediabetes in the United States, 2011. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2011.

3. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. National Diabetes Statistics, 2007 fact sheet. Bethesda, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, 2008.

4. Montana DPHHS, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.

5. U.S. Census Bureau: State and County QuickFacts.

6. Montana DPHHS, Office of Vital Statistics.

7. Vanderwood KK, Hall TO, Harwell TS, Butcher MK, Helgerson SD. The Montana Cardiovascular Disease and Diabetes Prevention Workgroup. Implementing a state-based cardiovascular disease and diabetes prevention program. Diab Care 2010;33:2543–2545.


Rocky Mountain Youth Resources

The mission of Rocky Mountain Youth Resources (RMYR) is to empower and support youth to become independent, responsible adults.

 At RMYR, youth experience relationships characterized by safety, protection, and care. We set healthy limits in a caring, structured community, giving youth confidence to try out positive behaviors, to build on individual strengths, and to learn from mistakes. RMYR believes that all youth need a supportive environment that allows them to develop wellness, express their individuality, and learn the skill to live independently.

 Rocky Mountain Youth Resources (RMYR) provides services to over 100 youth from communities across the state of Montana annually. RMYR helps youth who are abused, unwanted, runaways, chemically dependent, or emotionally troubled by equipping them with life skills to overcome severe situational disadvantages. RMYR operates two youth homes located in Helena: the Jan Shaw Therapeutic Youth Home for girls and the Margaret Stuart Youth Home for boys and girls.

The primary focus of the Youth Garden Project was to maintain a sustainable summer garden at each youth home, incorporating health wellness, and prevention into Rocky Mountain Youth Resources’ Independent Living Training (ILT) program curriculum. The gardens were constructed, planted, and maintained solely by the youth in the homes with the assistance of community volunteers. The project intended to teach the residents of RMYR about the environment, healthy nutrition, gardening skills, and responsibility. The main project goals were as follows:

Promote health, wellness, and overall healthy living.

  • Stimulate healthy diet habits with access to fresh produce.
  • Expose youth to nutritional health education through the Independent Living Training Program, using the youth garden as a primary tool.
  • Utilize the garden project as an intervention strategy for many clients with poor health and nutrition.
    • At the time the gardens were built, we had two pregnant women in our care. It is crucial for them to receive optimal nutrition while eating for two, and to generally understand the importance of healthy eating.
    • Within the last year, we have experienced an increase in diabetic clients. For these clients, diet and nutrition is an obstacle they will have to manage the rest of their lives. The acquisition of knowledge regarding diet and nutrition will benefit them beyond their stay with RMYR.

Teach youth at RMYR the value of environmental sustainability.

  • Invite local organic farmers to serve as educators through the ILT program.
  • Youth will learn the connection between what they are eating and where it comes from.
  • Educational resources in botany, composting, organic gardening, pesticide use and safety, soils and fertilizers, and environmental sciences.
  • Unique opportunity for ILT community volunteer guest speaker sessions.

Teach responsibility, work ethic, and patience through hands-on learning opportunities.

  • Gardening is a process, requiring time, effort, and hard work. All skills of which we hope to expose our youth to in preparation for adulthood.
  • Teach the budget benefits of growing your own seasonal produce.
  • Foster gardening as a future hobby and basic life skill. Exposure to grounds keeping and gardening would introduce future career pursuits within the green industry.

Implementation of this summer garden project resulted in resourceful activities and new opportunities for our youth to learn, build skills, and develop their interests. Over the past couple of summers the girls at the Jan Shaw Youth Home have grown a variety of things in the garden, including peppers and strawberries.  The girls harvest everything they grow with the assistance of staff members and volunteers.

This year’s project included releasing praying mantis and ladybugs into the garden to get rid of the ants that were taking over some of the plants.

Preying Mantis JS

Lady Bugs JS

Rocky Mountain Youth Resources was a 2012 recipient of RHI Incubator Mini-Grant funding this spring. The gardens’ start date was April 21st and the project will conclude this fall when harvesting of the gardens is complete. RMYR has partnered with the Rocky Mountain Development Council to reach at-risk youth in Lewis & Clark County.

For more information, please contact:

Emily McVey
Program Director

Helena Community Gardens


Helena Community Gardens (HCG) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to making garden space accessible to all Helenans.

 HCG currently manages seven different gardens throughout Helena. These gardens provide more than 200 individual garden plots for community gardeners. Each garden also has designated plots for volunteers to help grow and harvest produce for Helena Food Share.


In August 2012, HCG donated more than 4,000 pounds of vegetables to Helena Food Share. Helena Community Gardens builds gardens, provides the tools and knowledge to grow food and increase access to healthy and affordable food. HCG also organizes summer courses on a variety of topics including canning, cooking from the garden, and fermentation.


HCG strives to connect neighbors and communities through community gardens. In turn, these gardens provide environmental benefits by encouraging organic practices and reducing the amount of fossil fuels needed to access food.


HCG also partners with a few other organizations in Helena including Golden Years Gardening, Inside Edge Design, and the City of Helena. Home Depot, Helena Food Share, Plymouth Congregational Church, and St. Paul’s United Methodist Church have all helped with construction costs of various gardens as well.


For more information on volunteer opportunities, class sign ups, or garden plot rentals please their website:


Contact the HCG Coordinator, Kim Degner at: or (406) 438-6049.