Investments Part of Long-Term Healthy Places NC Initiative
With support from the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, Rockingham County plans to revitalize recreational, educational, and healthy eating initiatives for low-income students throughout the county. The funding is part of a community effort to increase physical activity and improve health among students and their families. The grant is part of the Trust’s Healthy Places NC, a long-term initiative to improve the quality of life and health in rural, financially disadvantaged North Carolina counties.
Rockingham County Schools will receive a $407,000 grant for operating funds to implement a whole child, whole school, and whole community approach to improve physical activity among students and their families districtwide. The project will focus on enriching children’s behaviors in schools through the coordination of classroom curriculum and physical education. The project is led by the Student Health Coordinator and the School Health Advisory Councils, or SHACs..
“Health and education affect individuals, society, and the economy. All of these components must work together. Schools are a perfect setting for this collaboration—they are one of the most efficient systems for reaching children, youth, and families since approximately 95 percent of all U.S. children and youth attend school,” said Deirdre Moyer, the Student Health Coordinator at Rockingham County Schools, who will be leading the effort with the help of SHACs. “At the same time, integrating health services and programs more deeply into the day-to-day life of schools and students represents an untapped tool for raising academic achievement and improving learning.”
Each school in the county has a SHAC that works to uphold policies and procedures surrounding health and wellness in schools. The Rockingham County SHAC meets once a month during the academic school year to set goals and discuss how to improve children’s overall learning and health. The meetings open a dialogue between teachers, administrators, the school wellness committee chair and parents advocating for a healthy and safe school environment.
In addition to the grant awarded to Rockingham County Schools, Rockingham Community College received $150,000 to improve access to opportunities for physical activity in Wentworth. The proposed “Get Healthy With Us” initiative includes renovating and paving a walking track; constructing a new playscape; resurfacing tennis courts; and improving a nature trail and soccer fields. The project is a result of efforts of Be Healthy Rockingham County, the Rockingham County School System, and the Rockingham County Partnership for Children to improve health and wellness of students and community members.
Other grants awarded include:
- The Eden YMCA received a $150,000 grant to rebuild outdoor and indoor fitness facilities, update the playground, resurface the walking track, and purchase new fitness equipment.
- The Salvation Army received $150,000 in funding to complete a community center in Rockingham County that will provide healthy eating and active living opportunities for low-income K-12 students. The project will focus on healthy eating, stress management, and positive self-esteem enhancement.
“The Rockingham County community has truly embraced the spirit of Healthy Places NC. The community’s focus on integrating health improvement into the school system is the type of innovative partnership Healthy Places NC works to cultivate,” said Allen Smart, Interim President and Vice President of Programs at the Trust. “These projects will bring new opportunities to students and families across the county to improve their access to healthy opportunities, experiences, and lessons.”
Rockingham County joined the Healthy Places NC initiative in 2013. The Trust plans to invest $100 million in 10 to 12 rural counties over a 10-year period. To date, the Trust has invited seven counties—Beaufort, Burke, Edgecombe, Halifax, McDowell, Nash and Rockingham—to participate and will announce additional counties in the coming years. In each county, Healthy Places projects are driven by the community’s concerns, as well as by where the Trust thinks there’s an opportunity for sustainable, long-term change. For a complete list of grants approved by the Trust’s Health Care Division this spring, click here.