Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Building a healthy community

Because of where I work, I had an amazing opportunity last week. I was asked to serve as a reviewer for the proposals submitted for the "Healthy Communities Mini Grant" funded by the Center for Community Health Development (a CDC-funded Prevention Research Center). 

The goals of the grant are:
  • To support the establishment of physical activity and/or nutritional projects and interventions.
  • To implement as well as create and/or advocate for community policy, systems, and environmental changes consistent with obesity prevention strategies.
According to the funding announcement, CCHD is looking for programs that promote "zoning/planning for parks and other recreational areas, trail or park development or enhancement, community and school garden development, community changes that increase access to fruits and vegetables, formation of a food policy group to promote community policies around fruits and vegetables, formation of active living policy group to promote community policies that address safety factors for walkers and bikers, nutrition (portion control, reduction of sweetened beverages, etc.), Safe Routes to School enhancements, increased access to and intake of fruits and vegetables, and television/screen time reduction."

Three agencies within our 7-county region, known as the Brazos Valley, applied. One was an effort to extend the Sustainable Food Center's (Austin, TX) "The Happy Kitchen" Program into the Brazos Valley - The Happy Kitchen Program teaches low income families how to choose and prepare healthy meals.  The second proposal was seeking funds to start a garden which would supplement a local food distribution program - basically, volunteers and local school students would prep the land, plant, harvest, and then distribute food to needy families. The last proposal was for a summer program for young children in which kids would be taught about healthy food choices, exercise, and even learn basic yoga.

I read through each proposal several times and submitted my reviews to the Program Manager, thanking her profusely for the opportunity. I've played a part in writing dozens of proposals since I first started working at the university.  But I've never had the opportunity to be a reviewer. This was my first. The thing is, it's isn't just any grant program. This funding will go into my community, helping individuals in need right here in the Brazos Valley. And I feel honored to have played a part in it. Who knows, perhaps there is more yet I can do.


Theresa said...

Wow, what a great opportunity! Sounds like you had a lot of worthwhile projects to review, and that any of them will be a boon to your community.

Heather @ SGF said...

It was pretty cool and they ended up funding 2 of the 3 programs. And the third (that didn't get funded) the school will be offering staff support to help.