Press release

Aetna Foundation Grant Helps Launch New Fitness and Nutrition Program



New Britain, CT
"We are pleased to support CMHA’s efforts to improve the health and well-being of the clients it serves."

A $25,000 grant from the Aetna Foundation to Community Mental Health Affiliates, Inc. (CMHA) will support Leaves of Progress, a new program which aims to improve the health and wellness of adult clients who struggle with mental illness and substance abuse issues.

The grant will provide education and activities for more than 75 adult members of CMHA’s Social Club, which offers group activities and outings in a safe and supportive environment. The multi-faceted program will offer key strategies to inspire and empower its participants to lead healthier lives, including lessons on how to prepare healthy food on a budget and fun physical activity opportunities like Zumba, group walks and yoga.

Program participants will also create and maintain several community gardens. Vegetables harvested from the gardens will be used in nutrition education, meal preparation and cooking demonstrations. Additional education will take place beyond the classroom through group visits to the grocery store. Led by a nutritionist, this real-life learning lab will teach participants how to read and understand nutritional facts labels so that they are better equipped to make healthy food choices for the home.

Leaves of Progress will be a peer-based wellness program blending physical activity with vegetable gardening, nutrition education, cooking demonstrations, and participatory action research.

“We are truly honored and excited that the Aetna Foundation supports the Leaves of Progress project to empower our members,” said CMHA Social Club Program Coordinator Sean Brown. “This grant enables us to provide more integrated services to improve the quality of life for our clients and further contribute to the well-being of the communities we serve.”

“Programs like Leaves of Progress can have a powerful impact in changing people’s health for the better,” said Garth Graham, M.D., M.P.H., president of the Aetna Foundation.  “We are pleased to support CMHA’s efforts to improve the health and well-being of the clients it serves.”

Community Mental Health Affiliates, Inc., (CMHA) is a private non-profit provider of behavioral health and substance abuse treatment.  Headquartered in New Britain, with 13 locations in 3 cities and towns throughout northwest and central Connecticut, CMHA is the state’s first fully Joint Commission accredited Behavioral Health Home.  CMHA provides treatment for nearly 6,000 children, adolescents and adults each year.

Aetna Foundation, Inc. is the independent charitable and philanthropic arm of Aetna Inc. (NYSE: AET). Since 1980, Aetna and the Aetna Foundation have contributed more than $445 million in grants and sponsorships. As a national health foundation, we promote wellness, health, and access to high-quality health care for everyone. This work is enhanced by the time and commitment of Aetna employees, who have volunteered 3.4 million hours since 2003.

Photo Caption: Aetna Head of Corporate Community Investments/Employee Programs Chris Montross and Aetna Foundation Program Officer Kristyn Neal (left) present a check for $25,000 to CMHA Program Officer Danielle Ebrahimi, CMHA Social Club Program Coordinator Sean Brown, and CMHA Director of Grants & Planning Daria Keyes.



Amy Ogle-Krystock
Communications Manager
Community Mental Health Affiliates (CMHA)
860-826-1358 x1692

Websites: www.aetnafoundation;