Cedarville’s school-based wellness center was one of 42 programs to receive a grant from the Blue & You Foundation for a Healthier Arkansas.

Cedarville was awarded $75,000 Dec. 3 to purchase dental equipment for the dental clinic that will be a part of the center, which also will provide primary, eye and mental health care. Occupational therapy already is available, but will be housed in the center.

Four classrooms in the east wing attached to the school’s elementary gymnasium will be converted into the wellness center.

Area physicians will be assisting with the center and providing care several hours each week, said Susanne Roth, federal program and curriculum coordinator with Cedarville School District.

Roth is currently acting as interim clinic coordinator and wrote the grant for the dental equipment, which she said is extremely expensive. Other funding also will help pay for the costs, she said.

"To buy the equipment for a dental office is unreal," Roth said.

Roth said the school district has received letters of commitment from Dr. Joseph F. Followell of Eye Group and Dr. Philip S. Morton of Morton Family Dentistry, both in Van Buren. A nurse practitioner has been assigned from Mercy Health.

Mercy personnel and Followell are helping Roth to obtain equipment necessary for their sections of the center, she said.

"We’re all working together," Roth said, adding that the school has been "blessed with a supportive community."

To start, physicians will provide clinic care for 16 hours each week, while Followell and Morton each will provide weekly care, Roth said.

Roth also is working on having a local pharmacy make weekly deliveries of prescription medications, she said.

"This community is in really great need of this facility," Roth said. "This is going to make our kids a lot healthier."

While the center will only be open to students the first year and only students will ever have access to the mental health clinic, Roth expects the other areas to be open to the public next fall, she said.

School administrators tentatively anticipate opening the clinic the second week of January, Roth said. Cedarville will be one of the first schools to open the center with all four clinics, she said.

Blue &You Foundation recently awarded $2,670,346 in grants to programs throughout the state, including programs to purchase medical equipment, workshops on healthy living and education on preventing heart disease and obesity.

"The Blue & You Foundation focuses our grants on programs that bring communities together in positive, healthy ways," Patrick O’Sullivan, executive director for the foundation, said in a media release.

While it was difficult to choose from all of the applications submitted this year, O’Sullivan said foundation members were impressed with the wide diversity and geography of the programs selected.

"There is something in these programs that can benefit thousands of Arkansans," O’Sullivan said in the release

The foundation was established in 2001 by Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield to support community organizations that are implementing programs to improve the health of Arkansans.

In its 12 years of operation, the Blue & You Foundation has awarded nearly $19 million to 423 health-improvement projects in Arkansas.