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Healthy Places, Active Spaces

In August 2010, the John Rex Endowment awarded the North Carolina Division of Public Health (NC DPH), in partnership with the North Carolina Public Health Foundation, funding to promote healthy eating and physical activity among underserved youth in communities across Wake County. The funding was used to create the Healthy Places, Active Spaces Grants Program which worked to support Wake County in addressing key risk factors for chronic diseases by increasing access to active living and healthy eating. Eight community organizations were selected by NC DPH and awarded up to $85,000 over three years to implement policy and environmental change strategies that make the healthy choice the easy choice in the communities they serve. The organizations selected include: Big Brothers, Big Sisters of the Triangle, Boys and Girls Club of Wake County, Inter-Faith Food Shuttle, Life Enrichment Center, Nessie Foundation, Pleasant Grove United Methodist Church, Riley Hill Family Life Center and the Town of Zebulon Parks and Recreation.

The community grant interventions combined innovation and collaboration to achieve impressive results:

  • Over 13,400 underserved youth and their families in Wake County were reached.
  • Eleven policies were adopted within the organizations to support healthy eating or active living, such as healthy vending and snack policies.
  • Approximately 129 partnerships were established or enhanced.
  • Approximately 119 environmental supports were added to support healthy eating or active living. Environmental supports include playground equipment, benches, lighting, signage, food preparation equipment and more.
  • Over 400 events, classes or special activities were offered to promote the use of these spaces or help support the policies adopted.
  • Over $550,000 in additional funding was leveraged. This includes other grants, donations or in-kind support.

Beyond the tangible impacts, grantees enjoyed the benefits of their communities coming together to change lives. Here are the words of some of those touched by the program:  

“…Grocery store trips are a once a month thing, twice if we're lucky. And so we couldn't get a lot of fresh food, because it would spoil if we got too much of it. So I think the community gardening and backyard gardening has been beneficial for my health and that of my family, helping us out.”

— Raise the Roots Backyard Garden Program Youth Leader

“Being diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, with my determination, I have lost 45 pounds with hard work and keeping my eye on the finished product. I am very proud to show off the new and improved me. Now that I feel and look healthy, it inspires me to do more...I thank my Club for keeping me healthy and alive.”

— 2014 Boys & Girls Clubs of Wake County’s Youth of the Year

“..There have not been any places for me to take my kids to play outdoors that were convenient for the whole family. Now I can walk, and the boys can play [basket]ball,  and the girls enjoy the swings. There was nothing around here for a long time after the community park closed. It’s nice to have a place to go as a family to be outdoors. Now I see the connection to health. My kids see me changing my behavior and now want to do healthier things too.”

— Mother attending the Wednesday Walking Group at Riley Hill Family Life Center



Read more about successes and impacts of the Healthy Places, Active Spaces Grants Program here:

Big Brothers, Big Sisters of the Triangle
Boys and Girls Club of Wake County
Inter-Faith Food Shuttle
Nessie Foundation (serving Parrish Manor Community)
Pleasant Grove United Methodist Church
Riley Hill Family Life Center
Zebulon Parks and Recreation Department

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Eat Smart, Move More NC exists through the work of its many partner organizations.
Please address all inquiries to the Eat Smart, Move More NC Webmaster.