Grants fund health initiatives


By Corey Davis
Staff Writer

Saturday, May 28, 2016

The local chapter of a national organization providing after-school programs for young people recently was awarded a grant for more than $300,000 by the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust as part of the organization’s giving out a series of grants to groups working in the Twin Counties. 

Trust officials said the grants given to organizations in Nash and Edgecombe counties go toward their efforts to improve fitness opportunities and healthy eating for local youth. The investments are part of the Trust’s long-term Healthy Places NC initiative. 

The Twin Counties joined the Healthy Places NC initiative in 2015. Edgecombe and Nash counties are two of seven counties the Trust has invited to participate with plans to invest $100 million in 10 to 12 rural counties over a 10-year period.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Nash/Edgecombe Counties received $382,000 in funding to expand its Triple Play program, a national health and wellness program developed in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The additional grants included the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill receiving a grant of $192,265 to implement a data-driven, coordinated process for analysis and dissemination of local health data, which will be utilized by multiple stakeholders to drive community change in the Twin Counties. Working in conjunction with the Twin Counties Partnership for Healthier Communities, the N.C. Institute of Public Health plans to collect, analyze and distribute targeted and local health information and data and assist the coalition with action planning.

The Trust awarded $132,263 for a leadership capacity building program that will be held in the Twin Counties area and target 25 people who work at nonprofit organizations to improve the health of the community. The program has two components — two multi-day training programs and integrated coaching support.

“There is exciting work underway in the Twin Counties, especially around identifying healthier options and opportunities for young people,” said Allen Smart, interim president and vice president of programs at the Trust. “Through Healthy Places NC, we are working to recognize and assist organizations and community members across Edgecombe and Nash counties that are working hard to improve the health of residents in their communities.”

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Nash/Edgecombe Counties will use $348,000 of the grant for operating funds to enhance the Triple Play program at three Boys and Girls Clubs locations in the Twin Counties. The additional $34,800 will cover indirect ecpenses.

The Boys and Girls Clubs offers its Triple Play program to 350 youths between the ages of 5 and 18.

Ron Green, chief professional officer of Boys & Girls Clubs of Nash/Edgecombe Counties, said the grant money will be paid over the next 36 months. He added the Triple Play Program develops the mind, body and soul of club members by developing their understanding of a healthy lifestyle and improving their physical fitness.

Through support from the Trust, the Boys & Girls Clubs will expand the existing Triple Play Program to create Triple Play Plus, which will engage more youth in intentional programming to increase and improve their healthy eating and active living habits and behaviors, Green said.

“Through the expanded Triple Play Plus program, our organization will be able to increase the number of hours per day for our kids to participate in physical activities from 30 minutes to 60 minutes per day,” he said. “We want to really be creative of how we’re able to implement our academic success but also increasing our overall physical activities.”

Trust officials also approved a $148,600 grant to the Boys & Girls Clubs to revitalize three fitness rooms, renovate the central kitchen and add the Green Thumb and Saturday’s with the Chef programs. 

“The young people also through the Green Thumb program are going to do some gardening through partnership with the Conetoe Family Life Center, then take what they pick out of the garden and make some food in the kitchen,” Green said. “We’re also going to be collaborating with Nash Community College and Prime Smokehouse where the young people and their parents will learn how to purchase and plan meals and ensure they’re balanced and healthy.”

Green said he is grateful for the Trust’s willingness to invest in the ongoing efforts of the Boys & Girls Club of Nash/Edgecombe Counties.

“The Trust isn’t one of those agencies that throw a grant out there and you apply for it and it seemed like they do everything in their power to not allow you to have the grant,” Green said. “They want to give to an organization that’s going to be around for a while and that’s going to make a positive difference or a change in the Twin Counties. This is a true game changer for us and the communities we serve.”