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  • Writer's pictureCameron Cochran

Foundation Awards $1.3M in Health Grants

Posted August 18, 2016

By Kelsey Padgett, Wilson Daily Times Staff Writer

The Healthcare Foundation of Wilson awarded $1.3 million in grants to local groups and organizations to complete healthy living initiatives throughout the community at a luncheon this week.

Healthcare Foundation Programs Specialist Debbie Bradshaw organizes the oversized checks before the grant recipients pick them up.

The foundation was formed in 2014 after Wilson Medical Center entered a partnership with Duke LifePoint Hospitals. It manages the prior reserves from the former nonprofit hospital as well as the assets from the joint venture.

The funds are steadily invested back into Wilson County through grants and fundraising efforts that meet the foundation’s mission of improving the health and overall well-being of Wilson residents.

This year, the foundation selected 19 grant applicants, featuring projects that focused on a finding a sustainable solution with measurable outcomes to address four of the community’s greatest health concerns: adolescent pregnancy, alcohol and substance abuse, obesity and sexually transmitted diseases.

Executive Director Denise O’Hara said many of the grants focus on children, and she likes that because they will develop healthy habits at a younger age. She added that many of the programs will overlap.

“Repetition is often the key to making things stick,” said O’Hara. “The more everyone in the community hears about this, the bigger impact we will have.”

Frank Batten, the chairman of the foundation’s board, told the recipients he hopes all of these initiatives will prove to be successful in the community.

“This money came from health care, and this money should stay in health care,” said Batten.


Barton was awarded a $125,000 grant that will allow the college to partner with Margaret Hearne Elementary School. The schools hope to address generational and cultural challenges of childhood obesity in the community. The project will take a two-prong approach of increasing awareness and access to childhood obesity education, while also enhancing the well-being of students, families and nearby residents. The funding will support the creation of a science, technology, engineering and math play garden, complementary programming, clinical placements and an intensive camp.


Hope Station received a $30,000 grant to launch a pilot project designed to help clients make healthy food choices with limited financial resources. Using the new Client Choice Pantry, project participants will receive nutrition education and select healthy foods based on their own health needs, cooking abilities and preferences. The project includes monitoring of health-related outcomes and collaboration from Barton College.


The Imagination Station was awarded $246,000 to support the new Wilson Center for the Science of Health and Sports. The new center will include spaces to learn about the human body and the need for physical activity with opportunities to use a glass-wall court, skycycle, rock-climbing wall and other training machines. Partners will be engaged to help monitor and measure health outcomes for nearby residents.


Integrity Unlimited Community Development Corp. was awarded a grant of $10,000 to expand its core programs to help reduce childhood obesity and empower people of all ages to take an active role in the health of the community. The grant funding will support the expansion of community gardens, increased health education and fitness opportunities and physician assistance to help track measurable outcomes.


Open Door Community Outreach Center received $1,200 to implement an outreach project that uses community-based evidence to reduce teen pregnancy and increase awareness in the community about STDs. The program will focus on youth ages 13 to 18.


St. James Christian Church received $15,000 to provide education and training classes that will focus on healthy food choices and physical fitness. Participants will be monitored and celebrated for their efforts and healthy changes.


Seeds of Hope received $5,900 to support a program with Vick Elementary School. The goal is to increase the number of students, staff and parents who are making healthy choices as a result of coordinated health and wellness opportunities for the school community.


SPOT received a $60,000 grant to support a three-part, age-specific health and fitness program to reduce obesity and lower body mass index for youth ages 4-15 and their families. The three components include physical activities, healthy foods education and STEM-based learning.

WILSON 20/20

Wilson 20/20 Community Vision was the only two-year grant awarded. It is worth $200,000 and will be used to support the Youth Master Plan and implementation of the Beyond 21 Plan. Both plans include strategies to address adolescent pregnancy, alcohol and drug abuse, obesity and STDs. The grant funding will support Wilson 20/20 in a lead role to track collective data for impact and progress toward common goals and objectives and identify relative and reliable data relevant to changing outcomes.


The WCIA received $20,000 to launch a one-year pilot program to implement community initiatives aimed at reducing obesity and improving healthy eating. WCIA will use an evidence-based strategy and intergenerational approach for maximum impact.


The Wilson County Health Department received a grant for $220,000 to support the first school-based health center in Wilson. The grant funding supports a collaborative effort with Wilson County Schools, the Wilson Department of Social Services and Wilson 20/20 to reduce learning barriers and encourage students to communicate more about their health needs and concerns that otherwise could affect school attendance and student success. Health education from a holistic perspective will address all of the priority areas identified by the Healthcare Foundation of Wilson.


Wilson County Schools was awarded $25,000 to support the implementation of MATCH, or Motivating Adolescents with Technology to Choose Health, which is a school-based childhood obesity intervention program that uses a body-systems approach to teach seventh-grade students how the choices they make affect their future health. The approach includes lessons taught in healthful living, STEM, language arts and social studies. MATCH also provides adapted lessons, school/district level reporting, bullying reporting, an online curriculum and data management system.

WCS also received $48,000 to support the installation of eight walking tracks and monitors at Hearne, Gardners, Rock Ridge and Stantonsburg elementary schools and Darden, Forest Hills, Speight and Toisnot middle schools. The focus on the project is to provide a safe place to exercise and increase the ability of students to participate in physical activities and to meet state requirements for students.


The Wilson County Department of Social Services received $150,000 to support and implement Eat Smart Move More, which is an evidence-based program that focuses on individual health behaviors to reduce obesity. The initial focus will include simultaneous work on individual, family and community levels of responsibility to decrease consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages. A marketing campaign will include billboards, radio advertisements and social media. Water bottle refilling stations will also be installed in key locations, including schools, businesses and faith-based organizations.


The Wilson County Substance Abuse Coalition received a grant for $45,000 to implement a marketing campaign focused on changing youth perceptions of risks while reducing access and use of prescription medications. The project will include drug identification training for education professionals.


Wilson Family YMCA received $20,000 to expand the Girls on the Run program for girls in third through eighth grade and the STRIDE running program for boys in third through fifth grade. The programs help youth achieve fitness and health goals with a 20-lesson curriculum that promotes good choices for a lifetime of self-respect and healthy living.


The Wilson Family YMCA and Save-a-Youth were awarded $46,000 to support a program to promote fitness, address obesity and empower residents in an underserved community. The grant funding supports collaboration with community partners to develop a new fitness center in an accessible location where individuals and families can learn and participate in physical fitness activities.


The Wilson Parks and Recreation Department was awarded $10,000 to support outreach to intellectually challenged school-age children and adults. Grant funding will support the implementation and monitoring of a new exercise program with specific classes offered to all ages with a focus on increasing physical activity time and reducing obesity and other related medical concerns.


Wilson Prep received $50,000 for a project that will enable parents and children to choose healthier meals at school by using an online menu selection. Nutrition and fitness education will also be provided, and the grant project will include the addition of a walking track and fitness equipment.

O’Hara said she is excited to see the impact each initiative has on families in Wilson County.

“We are committed to investing in promising projects that focus on effectively influencing and supporting healthier living among residents in the greater Wilson community,” O’Hara said. “We applaud the grant recipients for their initiative to seek solutions and create change.”

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