Nearly $31,000 Awarded to 8 Communities

Eat Smart Move More South Carolina (ESMMSC) is pleased to announce $30, 944.81 has been awarded to eight communities in the Lowcountry, Midlands, Pee Dee and Upstate regions of the state. For the past two-and-a-half years, ESMMSC has been funding communities around the state to increase access to healthy food and safe places for physical activity.

“This application round was the largest response we’ve received yet, which makes choosing the recipients more difficult,” said Kelsey Allen, Manager of Community Initiatives at ESMMSC. “We received 53 applications that were all deserving of funding, but we only had enough funds to award eight communities this time.”

Reviewers, located around the state, judge applications using set criteria, such as policy, system, and environmental change; health equity, underserved populations, and community accessibility, and community impact. For applications that were not accepts, technical assistance is provided, and, oftentimes, applicants are connected to ESMMSC partners who can help move the project along.

In June 2020, the application for the final round of mini-grants will open. Funding is made possible by The BlueCross® BlueShield® of South Carolina Foundation, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

Round 4 Grant Recipients

Carolina Youth Development Center (CYDC) will plant a campus garden to serve its residents and the community. The goal is to implement a self-sustaining project that will allow kids to plant and grow food, process it in CYDC’s DHEC-certified commercial kitchen facility, and ultimately, sell it through a partnership with Lowcountry Street Grocery, an organization that delivers a mobile market to food deserts in the greater Charleston community. CYD will also partner with the Green Heart Project, which will design a garden space on CYDC’s to initially include seven raised garden beds. They will also use Green Heart Project’s science-based curriculum to engage residents in an after-school activity that teaches farm-to-table production.

Fort Lawn Community Center is partnering with the Town of Fort Lawn, Community Heart and Soul Team, and Eat Smart Move More Chester County to make improvements to a local playground, making it more user-friendly for youth and families. This idea is one of the findings during a walkability study. In addition, the Community Heart and Soul team interviewed hundreds of residents and visitors to the Fort Lawn and concluded that a major concern is a lack of recreational facilities. This project will encourage greater use of the playground by individuals and families through better signage, revamped edging and mulch for equipment, and improvements to parking. Plans include adding signage on major roads and in neighborhoods, purchasing and installing edging, mulch, and rock during a volunteer project day, publicizing the improvements, and determining a method for tracking usage of the playground.

Ladies Divine to Shine will convene a Healthy Young People Empowerment (HYPE) team to engage youth leaders in creating a food policy council representing Lamar, SC and its surrounding communities. The HYPE Team will conduct activities to promote more consumption of fruits and vegetables, decreasing consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks, decreasing unhealthy snacks and reducing portion size and increasing physical activity. They will also conduct a healthy eating and physical activity assessment of the area, as well as lead physical activities for students during the summer months.

The Town of Paxville will renovate Paxville Community Park to make it accessible and inclusive for all residents. The intention of this project is to facilitate increased and diverse usage of the park as well as to encourage healthy living habits and fellowship among community members. While some of the park features are usable, the park as a whole does not currently present itself as a modern or inspiring space for the public to utilize or gather. This park project reflects the growing needs and interests of the community to cater to a young and rural population by offering modern, mixed-use, and health-oriented services. In parallel, the town is also conducting the process to obtain its own ambulance.

The Saluda High School HYPE Team will focus on improving Brooks and Rand Memorial Park, or “The Field.” Over the years, the park has been neglected. It no long has electricity and service. The park equipment is old, unusable, and unsafe. Tall grass, litter, and graffiti now pollute the area. The students believe that restoring and revitalizing the park will provide a safer and more accessible outlet for community members to get out and become physically active. The HYPE team will partner with community leaders and volunteers to install signage, replace benches and basketball goals. Other park improvements will be implemented that can lead to longer-standing changes in the Brooks and Roston Memorial Park and surrounding community.

The South Carolina School for the Deaf and Blind Foundation (SCSDBF) wants to build upon its Pathways to Healthy Living Initiative by installing water refill stations on its campus, which will not only impact the students and faculty, but also the surround community that uses the Fluor Field House for physical activity. This project will resolve a safety issue for students who have difficulty using current water fountains from 1969. In addition to installing new and modern water refill stations, SCSDBF will use the funds to retrofit some water fountains with a water bottle refill fitting. By installing both new and retrofitted bottle filling stations, SCSDBF will make it easier for students, staff, and community members to adopt the healthy habit of drinking fresh water

St. James-Santee Elementary/Middle School will intentionally reach a pocket of Charleston County that has limited resources by installing inclusive playground equipment and bicycle stands, providing bicycle locks, and building a bike trail to connect the school campus to nearby trailheads. School leaders will also strengthen their open community use policy to allow parents/caregivers and their children to use the playground and biking trail during the weekends, school breaks, and summer. The project, in partnership with the Town of McClellanville and Francis Marion National Forest, will address community needs by providing free opportunities and easily-accessible space for the community to be active.

Keystone Substance Abuse Services will improve an existing walking path located on its campus. The walking path us rundown and not fully paved, oftentimes ending up as a mud pit after rainfall. The walking trail loops from the front of the building to the back of the building and creates an approximate .25 mile loop, and it’s the only recreation space that patients can access. Funding will support the pavement of the trail to allow our patients more access to a walking trail to increase physical activity. Evidence shows that physical activity can help provide structure, generate positivity, distract from cravings, and heal the body and brain. Long term plans include creating fitness stations for patients and staff to increase overall wellness for individuals.

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