Over 10 years, the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust hopes to invite 10 to 12 rural, economically disadvantaged counties to participate in Healthy Places North Carolina, a $100 million initiative to improve the long-term health and wellbeing of residents. Healthy Places is driven by community concerns and depends on homegrown leaders with the capacity to ensure the sustainability of its investments. To identify programs and projects, Healthy Places works with local leaders, health care providers, educators, advocates and others to find new ways to improve the health of those living in the community and to support successful efforts already underway. Projects originate from the community because local people know best what they and their neighbors need to lead healthier lives.
Rockingham County is among the first of seven counties identified by the Trust as ripe for investment, and efforts have focused on addressing chronic disease. We quickly saw that people in Rockingham County are ready to think beyond traditional models of health care to encompass overall health and wellness, and we look forward to our continued partnership into the future. Here are some examples of Healthy Places Rockingham County projects that are underway:
· The Rockingham County Partnership for Children launched the Nurse-Family Partnership program, which connects low-income, first-time mothers with home nursing support from 28 weeks of gestation until their child is two. Nurses visit mothers at home to provide the support they need to have a healthy pregnancy, help them become knowledgeable parents, and ensure moms and babies have a regular doctor and health insurance.
· The Trust funded the establishment of a Rural Health Center in Eden on the campus of Morehead Memorial Hospital. The Rural Health Center will provide primary medical and behavioral health care to residents in Rockingham County so they can stay well and keep chronic conditions under control. The clinic will expand access to care for over 1,000 patients.
· In collaboration with the Rockingham County Department of Public Health and Rockingham County School System, the Trust provides support to the Boys and Girls Club of Eden. We have teamed up with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and launched an effort to increase daily physical activity, good nutrition and the development of healthy relationships among children, called Triple Play. The project focuses on reducing chronic disease by teaching kids about health behaviors and their environment.
· We are collaborating with the Conservation Fund’s Resourceful Communities program to build the capacity of grassroots organizations to plan, manage and implement effective healthy eating and active living programming. The program provides technical assistance, training and small grants to strengthen our local network of organizations working to improve health and reduce chronic disease.
· Rockingham County Pathways for Health is a long-term, regional collaboration to create recreational trails throughout the community, including trails, greenways and bikeways. The effort began in 2011, and in 2013 the county and all municipalities finalized and formally adopted a plan. The Trust has joined with the Reidsville Area Foundation, STEP and the Town of Mayodan to fund the next two miles of the Mayodan Mountain Bike Trail—and there are many other trails also underway.
· Prevention Partners, a nonprofit that works to build healthier communities, is implementing its workplace wellness programs throughout Rockingham County. The program addresses the leading causes of preventable diseases such as physical inactivity, tobacco and poor nutrition through a six-step change process.