THE KATE B. REYNOLDS CHARITABLE TRUST ANNOUNCED IT WILL INVEST MORE THAN $1.2 MILLION IN TWO COMPREHENSIVE LOCAL PROGRAMS to support the community’s vision to combat childhood obesity as part of Healthy Places NC, a long-term Trust initiative to improve health and health care in rural, financially disadvantaged counties in North Carolina.
“Healthy Places NC means working with the local communities in these rural areas to find ways to improve people’s health long-term,” said Allen Smart, vice president of programs at the Trust. “The Halifax County community has rallied around childhood obesity, built partnerships across sectors and shown they’re ready to take the next step. These investments show the community ‘We heard you, and we’re supporting your vision’.”
Specifically, a $664,509 grant to the Halifax County Public Health System, in partnership with the County’s three school districts, will support the implementation of the Coordinated Approach to Child Health (CATCH) program in 15 elementary schools serving low-income children. CATCH is a national, evidence-based program that targets children’s behaviors and the school environment through classroom curriculum, family engagement, and food service and physical education modifications.
The Trust also granted $622,250 to Halifax Regional Medical Center, on behalf of the Roanoke Valley Community Health Initiative, to implement the “Get Fit, Stay Fit Roanoke Valley” campaign to encourage healthy eating and physical activity among Halifax and Northampton county children and their families. The campaign is a comprehensive, five-year effort including education, new programming at local parks, improved access to healthy foods and workplace wellness projects.
One of the first communities to be invited to participate in Healthy Places NC in 2012, Halifax County has forged new partnerships locally and worked closely with Trust staff to begin to take action around health. These new investments build on a number of other projects the community has undertaken to help children and families get healthy including two KaBOOM! playgrounds, fitness and recreation improvements at low-income schools, a new clinic located next to the hospital’s emergency room, expansion of the area’s School-Based Health Centers, and a county-wide recreation plan. Watch the video about Healthy Places Halifax County here to learn more.
Other Halifax County investments announced this month include a $211,299 grant to improve financially disadvantaged residents’ access to healthy foods and fresh produce in 10 rural, Tier 1 counties, including Halifax. The Trust also gave a grant to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to improve behavioral health services for children and their families in Halifax, Franklin, Granville, Vance and Warren counties.
“The excitement and energy in the Halifax County community around health improvement is undeniable,” said Jehan Benton-Clark, senior program officer working in Halifax County. “Over the past two years, we’ve seen residents and organizations come together, bridge historic divides and take the lead on projects that will result in new opportunities for the community. There is more work to be done, but Halifax County is making great strides as it works toward long-term, sustainable change in the health of its residents.”
In each county, Healthy Places work and projects will be driven by the community’s concerns, as well as by where the Trust thinks there’s an opportunity for sustainable, long-term change. The Trust plans to invest $100 million in 10 to 15 rural, low-income counties over a 10-year period. To date, four counties—Halifax, Beaufort, McDowell and Rockingham—have been invited to participate in Healthy Places NC.
The $1.7 million in grants to organizations working in Halifax County was announced as part of the Trust’s recent grant cycle, when the foundation approved more than $4.9 million in funding to improve the overall health of North Carolinians, with an intense focus on rural, low-income communities.
Overall, the Trust’s Health Care Division made 24 grants this cycle to improve the health of financially disadvantaged individuals of all ages across the state.