Northwest Health Foundation Invites Letters of Interest for Healthy Eating Active Living Grants
June 21, 2012 -- The town of Odell sits just five miles away from the famously active community of Hood River. But until recently, Odell residents – 40 percent of whom are Latino – lacked one of the key components to staying active themselves: a city park.
That changed last summer, due to funds from Oregon State Parks and the Northwest Health Foundation – as well as a community engagement process the Foundation hopes to see other communities repeat with a newly available grant award.
“Very few Parks and Recreation districts in the State received this grant. Fewer had their projects funded in full,” said Lorena Sprager, the program manager for the park project, said of a $250,000 grant from the state that enabled the community to build the park. “The grant committee attributed our receiving this grant to the efforts of our Parks and Rec to be inclusive of all community members, the
data included on the Latino population and the Latino community’s participation in the
The advocacy effort was funded in part by a $99,299 grant from the Northwest Health Foundation, which also went toward funding work with the Hood River County School District to implement their school wellness policies, influencing local land use and zoning policies and worksite wellness.
Sprager said the Hood River Parks District had already been planning to build a park in Odell when her organization Nuestra Voz, Nuestra Salud (“Our Voices, Our Health”) was approached about doing outreach to the Latino community. Initial outreach efforts included letters, radio ads and door-to-door canvassing to encourage people to attend planning meetings, but then stepped up. Organizers also reached out to Duckwall-Pooley Fruit Company, a major area employer, asking management to talk to their workers about the park and gather feedback and suggestions.
The company ended up paying one shift of 40 workers to learn and give input about the park, Sprager said – and were so pleased by workers' level of engagement that they then paid for a second shift of 45 workers to do the same. Organizers also met with 40 Head Start parents to disseminate information and gather more information on the park.
Chris Kabel, senior program officer for the Northwest Health Foundation, said the foundation has been offering grants to support healthy eating-active living for six or seven years, but had noticed that many grant applications come from more urban, more affluent areas in the Willamette Valley. What was missing, he said, was the opportunity for communities to get together and figure out what they wanted before applying for additional grant funding to carry out their plans.
“A lot of communities around the state had not had the opportunity to get to that point, where they had clearly defined resources and priorities,” Kabel said.
The foundation is now – until June 28 – accepting letters of inquiry for $10,000 grants that would allow communities to explore the types of changes they would need to make to make their members healthier and more active. Grant funding would go toward the cost of initial outreach efforts – such as renting a venue, hiring a facilitator, or providing refreshments or supplies for a community meeting.
“At the end of the process they will have a very solid plan that will make them a more competitive for solid resources down the road,” Kabel said – hopefully resulting in more success stories like Odell's, that were conceived as well as executed by the members of the community they intend to help. “We're excited to see what comes in the door.”
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