Since 2012, the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust’s Healthy Places NC initiative has invested in communities to improve the health and well-being of adults and children in financially disadvantaged, rural communities. To date, the Trust has invested more than $20 million in five counties, and eventually plans to invest up to $100 million in 10 to 15 counties across the state.
A cornerstone of Healthy Places’ efforts to improve health and wellness include investments in new and improved playgrounds, walking trails, and other recreational facilities designed with local schools and the communities surrounding them in mind.
And while the new playgrounds are often the first clear and exciting signs of change and much-needed investment in these communities, the collaboration among school districts, families and local leaders and their commitment to rethinking children’s health are incalculable signs of change, as well.
Halifax, Rockingham, Beaufort and McDowell counties are now home to dozens of new playgrounds, playing fields, walking trails and recreational facilities that are complete or in progress at 50 elementary and middle schools.
In Halifax County, the Trust has invested in new or improved walking trails, basketball courts and baseball fields, playground equipment, soccer goals, exercise equipment, and more at 14 different schools, where students were desperately in need of safe spaces to play and exercise. Read more.
Seventeen schools in Rockingham County will benefit from new or improved outdoor fitness stations, playground equipment and expanded play spaces, walking tracks, fixed soccer and basketball goals, and more. Read more.
In Beaufort County, nine elementary and middle schools received funds to repair existing basketball and tennis courts, expand playgrounds, repair damaged gymnasium floors, improve playing fields, build new walking trails, and provide safe fencing where there was none. Read more.
Eight elementary schools in McDowell County received grants to improve outdoor playgrounds and recreation spaces, replace outdated and potentially dangerous playground equipment, and construct new basketball courts and walking tracks, and more. Read more.
In addition, new and expanded facilities at most of the schools in these counties are being designed with the needs of surrounding communities in mind, so families living around the schools can take advantage of new and safe places to exercise, thus adding to the overall health benefit of the Trust’s investments and reinforcing Healthy Places’ efforts.