MicheLee Puppets wins national grant

Congratulations to MicheLee Puppets, which has won a $15,000 grant from the Aetna Foundation for a project to fight childhood obesity in Florida.

The grant was the result of online voting, which — thanks to some terrific online promoting hereabouts — gave MicheLee the third highest number of votes across the U.S.

Here’s lots more about the project and about MicheLee:

Puppets Fight Childhood Obesity and Win $15,000!

MicheLee Puppets won a $15,000 Aetna Foundation grant to continue their work reducing childhood obesity in Florida, it was announced today.

To commemorate National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, the Aetna Foundation hosted an online Fight Childhood Obesity Now grant contest on its website.  The Aetna Foundation selected only 10 nonprofit organizations nationwide, to compete to win one of three grants by generating the highest number of votes on the Aetna Foundation web site.  MicheLee Puppets won 3rd place with 24% of the votes, and was the only organization selected from Florida and the only arts organization in the competition.

People throughout Florida helped by sharing the contest news and the Aetna Foundation link with their friends and family by email, Facebook and other social media and helped MicheLee Puppets generate the 175,523 votes and the 3rd place win of $15,000.

Using the power of puppetry, MicheLee Puppets’ Extreme Health Challenge has helped more than 307,000 Florida children laugh and learn about the importance of good nutrition and active lifestyles to fight childhood obesity.

Extreme Health Challenge is a live theatrical production that promotes healthy eating and physical activity among Florida’s children and their families.  Recognized by national and local funders, the United States Department of Health and Human Services Innovations Exchange, and featured in the Robert Wood Johnson Anthology To Improve Health and Health  Care, Volume XIII, the action-packed performance features wacky puppet characters and audience participation in the format of popular TV-game shows.

The crisis of childhood obesity has grabbed national headlines, especially with the recent Let’s Move campaign initiated by First Lady Michelle Obama. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past 30 years.”  The Obesity Society reports, “…one in five children in the US is overweight.”  According to  the American Diabetes Association , the consequences of obesity to the individual include health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, lower quality of life, and shorter lifespan.

“We can do something to stop the childhood obesity trend through prevention and education.  The $15,000 grant from Aetna Foundation will enable Extreme Health Challenge to educate children and their families throughout Florida about how to create healthy habits for a lifetime. Together we can fight childhood obesity,” stated Tracey Conner, Executive Director of MicheLee Puppets.


MicheLee Puppets, Florida’s premier puppetry-arts company, was founded as a  nonprofit organization in 1985.  Committed to serving the children of Florida by empowering lives through the art of puppetry, MicheLee Puppets brings exciting, educational and entertaining issue-based productions to more than 100,000 young people each year. Topics address the critical and challenging issues students face today including bullying, domestic violence, environmental conservation, healthy lifestyles, and sexual assault.  Through gripping performances young people learn respect, personal responsibility, and how to make positive life choices.

Now in its 25th season, MicheLee Puppets has served more than 1.7 million Florida students with school and community presentations.  The ability to effectively communicate difficult messages in a compelling and nonthreatening way has led to national recognition by the Puppeteers of America, bestowing MicheLee Puppets with the Marjorie Batchelder McPharlin Award for Excellence in Educational Puppetry, and a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grant for their statewide production of Extreme Health Challenge.

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