Grant will fund five projects

Published 5:10 pm Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The proposals are in and the projects have been selected for where the $20,000 Strategic Alliance for Health grant will be spent over the next six months in Butler County.

Ann Fuller, assistant communities coordinator to the Strategic Alliance for Health grant, said the assessment of the county, completed a little more than a month ago, helped the group determine where the money needed to be spent.

“The purpose of which was to get a snapshot of the county and see how the county functions as a whole with regard to physical activity, nutrition and management of chronic diseases,” Fuller said. “We interviewed healthcare facilities, schools, workplaces, community-based organizations and try to determine the extent to which those agencies, entities or businesses were already having policies and systems in place to address obesity, chronic disease, physical activity, nutrition and the like.”

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The grant will go to the following programs: Head Start, the Greenville YMCA, the Butler County Board of Education, Healthy Kids, Inc and the cooperative extension initiative to get signage to promote the Farmer’s Market.

“We have a playground that we share with the Board of Education, and what we’re trying to do is enhance that playground because all the children use that playground,” Chief Service Specialist of Head Start Dorothy Jordon said. “We’re trying to enlarge it and also redo the equipment.”

Amanda Phillips, executive director of the Greenville YMCA has submitted two different projects and does not know which one will be developed.

One proposal is a Youth Fitness Center starting at age 9, which will include a room with equipment specifically made for youth. The other proposal is a walking trail on Watermelon Hill that will incorporate a 1/4 mile-walking trail that could have outdoor fitness equipment at four different points.

“There are six and half acres on that hill that’s not being used anymore and with it being on the hill, it would be open for public access,” Phillips said. “It will not be a YMCA members-only thing, and if we go with the Youth Fitness Center, that would not be a YMCA members-only either.”

As for the Board of Education, Fuller said many times the grant would offer training for PE teachers to meet the 2012 guidelines. However, Butler County School’s Superintendent Darren Douthitt said the PE teachers have already been trained. In return, Fuller said the grant would be able to offer different supplies to enhance the PE program.

“Your offer of supplies for the PE program will hopefully make it where we make PE so interesting that kids go on there to Saturday to play,” Douthitt said.

As for Healthy Kids Inc., executive director, Lisa Nimmer, explained how her proposal consisted of getting some sort of shade covering for the playground for the First Steps program.

“There is a playground over there on the east side of the campus that receives direct sunlight and due to our wonderful Alabama weather makes it excruciatingly warm during the times of the year that you would most likely find children out on the playground,” Nimmer said. “That’s what we’ve written our proposal for and to also upgrade some of the equipment that we utilize for our outdoor activities with the children.”

As of now, Fuller said they have not figured out how much each program will receive for the individual projects.

“We don’t know exactly yet the level of funding that we’re going to be able to appropriate to your projects,” Fuller said. “We do know where we want to focus our efforts. We may not be able to fund at the level of which is on your original project proposals but we want to partner and do what we can.”

The development of the projects will begin Jan. 1 and will hopefully be completed by June 1.

“We feel very strongly that if we finish our projects in June, we’ll have time to evaluate the work we’ve done in this county,” Communities Coordinator Alabama Strategic Alliance for Health Program Stacey Adams said. “We’ll do a memorandum of agreement and the way our grant works is we reimburse based on invoices. We’ve really seen some projects that come in under what had originally been proposed so we would have an opportunity to go back and look at other project requests and really maximize the resources that have been allocated for Butler County.”

The next consortium meeting will be Thursday, January 19 at 10 a.m. and the public is encouraged to attend.

“We just wish we could fund everything but as you know, our funds are not that extensive and we have $20,000 to spend in Butler County,” Fuller said. “We try to do it in ways that will have the most reach, will have the most affect on people, will be projects that will be sustainable and projects that we can also evaluate to determine the success of a project.”