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Kids Call the Shots on $15,000 School Grant Project

TACOMA, Wash.—They may not be old enough to vote, but they’re learning the power of the ballot. White River High School students have a unique opportunity to decide how to spend a $15,000 grant on a school improvement project. The Pierce County Auditor’s Office will help them decide the winning idea.

On March 28, the students will go to the Auditor’s Office to count ballots from a school-wide vote two days earlier on student-generated ideas. The project with the most votes will get funding. Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department received project funding from Pierce County to, in part, empower students to reach their full health potential.

“Students have an exciting opportunity to help shape their environment,” said Marcy Boulet, health promotion coordinator. “What they decide will help support their overall wellbeing and sense of social connectedness,” she said.

Students learn to benefit other students.

A small group of White River High School students has worked on the project since last November. They collected ideas from the student population, then sorted those ideas into proposals. Students vote on the proposals March 26 at school. The five proposals are:

Water bottle filling stations.
Banners for all clubs and activities.
New outdoor benches.
Gym screen and sound system tune-up.
Classroom and school equipment.

The only stipulation from the Health Department was for students to direct a project that benefited students.

Residents put in charge to improve community health.

Participatory planning and budgeting (PPB) is the process that empowers a community to make investments based on the community’s health priorities. Community members can:

Respond rapidly and directly to the root causes of health problems.
Reduce the scale and duration of problems.
Improve feelings of connectedness and well-being.

The Health Department uses this strategy in our Communities of Focus—areas that experience some of the poorest health outcomes in the county. With a little help, these communities have the potential to be healthier. White River is one of six such areas.

Learn more about our Communities of Focus initiative and health equity at

About Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department: Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department’s mission is to protect and improve the health of all people and places in Pierce County. As part of our mission, the Health Department tackles known and emerging health risks through policy, programs and treatment to protect public health. We are one of roughly 244 accredited health departments in the country and among six in the state to have met or exceeded the Public Health Accreditation Board’s quality standards. Learn more at

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