Halifax County to Expand Youth Mental Health Services, Increase Opportunities for Kids of All Ages to Be Active

The Trust will fund integrated, school-based behavioral health centers in Halifax, Northampton and Warren counties, as part of its Healthy Places NC initiative. The Trust announced the funding in conjunction with grants to expand children’s access to outdoor spaces for physical activity. Together, the grants are aimed at improving health outcomes for children in and around Halifax County.

“Our children can’t learn and succeed if they’re not starting from a healthy foundation,” said Brian Harris, CEO of the Rural Health Group. “Ensuring our kids have access to the health care they need and are learning healthy behaviors is just as important as teaching them basic principles of math.”

The Trust also awarded $334,871 to the Halifax-Warren Smart Start Partnership for Children to increase access to natural outdoor learning spaces for low-income children from birth to age five in Halifax County, ultimately aiming to help reduce childhood obesity—an issue that’s becoming increasingly important to the community—across the Roanoke Valley. The project will assess, design and implement playground and outdoor learning improvements at 44 child care facilities, and provide training on age-appropriate nutrition, physical activities and strategies to engage children in outdoor learning environments.

The City of Roanoke Rapids received $125,000 from the Trust to expand access to alternative opportunities for physical activity in the city. The funding will be used to develop a skate and bicycle park that will be open to the public and provide safety equipment, bicycles and skateboards. The park will expand adolescents’ access to alternative physical activity and will focus on improving cardiovascular fitness, endurance and core strength.

“The Halifax County community is coming together to create an environment where the next generation can flourish,” said Jehan Benton-Clark, senior program officer for the Trust. “We know that kids’ health in their early, formative years is so critical to helping them grow up to become tomorrow’s leaders. I’m impressed and heartened that the community is tackling chronic issues like adolescent mental health and childhood obesity head on.”

Halifax County has participated in Healthy Places NC since 2012. The Trust plans to invest $100 million in 10 to 12 rural, low-income countries over a 10-year period. Six other counties—Beaufort, Burke, Edgecombe, McDowell, Nash and Rockingham—currently participate in Healthy Places NC.

The Trust announced the Halifax County grants as a part of its recent grant cycle, when the Trust approved more than $10 million in funding to improve the overall health of North Carolinians at the community level. For a complete list of grants approved by the Trust’s Health Care Division, click here.