Building a Healthy Living Network
In 2017, we created the Healthy Living Network as a way to deepen our relationships with nonprofit partners and provide more opportunities for them to try new ideas and share best practices. As part of that effort, we awarded nearly $500,000 in Healthy Living Accelerator grants to 23 nonprofits across Massachusetts, including those described below, so they can test innovative solutions to health challenges in their communities.
In addition to grants, members of our Healthy Living Network have access to workshops and events where they can share their successes and challenges with their peers and participate in skills-based training.
The Food Project
Build-a-Garden, a program of The Food Project, gives third-graders in eight Lynn elementary schools a hands-on opportunity to plant seeds, tend their gardens, and harvest the greens to eat. “What never fails to amaze me about the gardens is just how excited kids get about eating the food they grew,” says James Harrison, The Food Project’s executive director. “Kids who may otherwise not think of themselves as liking vegetables start coming back for seconds and thirds!" Our grant will help fund the building of 100 new raised-bed gardens in urban backyards and community spaces, while supporting 750 existing gardens built in previous years.
The Children’s Investment Fund
Let's Take It Outside (LTIO), a training program designed by the Children's Investment Fund, helps early education and after-school organizations create safe, healthy, and developmentally appropriate outdoor play and learning spaces. It is based on the principle that physically strenuous play contributes to healthy brain development, enhances learning, and improves memory. “All children deserve access to high-quality play opportunities that fuel their minds, bodies, and imaginations,” says Theresa Jordan, Director of Children’s Facilities Finance. But, as she points out, many early education and after-school organizations have limited resources. “Our training helps organizations accelerate their vision for a new or improved outdoor play space by connecting them with the knowledge and resources they need.”
Black Ministerial Alliance
Fit Church/Fit Community, an initiative of the Black Ministerial Alliance of Greater Boston, partners with congregations in low-income, minority neighborhoods to improve health outcomes for local residents. Their objective is to reduce health disparities in the black community, particularly in the urban congregations of Boston and the local communities they serve, using a three-pronged strategy: (1) improve eating habits (2) increase physical activity, and (3) promote regular access to health care. Reverend David Wright, executive director for the Alliance, says that the Blue Cross grant has given their network of local churches the ability to build stronger health resources within their communities. “We use health fairs to connect community members to critical health information and to local health centers where necessary,” he says. “Our Zumba classes, family fun days, and walking clubs help our neighbors increase their physical activity in community settings that also promote the building of relationships.”
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