Local schools get healthy boost

Published 8:54 pm Friday, May 17, 2013

Recreational facilities at nine local schools are getting a boost from some helping hands.

The Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust announced this week that a recent grant cycle will fund a variety of improvements at each school: gym renovations, resurfacing basketball courts, purchasing new playground equipment, restoring tennis courts, and resurfacing tracks and walking paths. According to a press release from the trust, the schools are working with the community to make many of the recreational facilities open to the public after school hours as part of Healthy Places North Carolina, a long-term investment in rural, financially disadvantaged North Carolina counties.

In Beaufort County, $35,000 each goes to Beaufort County Ed Tech Center, Chocowinity Middle, Chocowinity Primary, Eastern Elementary, John Cotten Tayloe Elementary, John Small Elementary, Northeast Elementary and S. W. Snowden Elementary — schools where at least 75 percent of students are eligible for free or reduced lunch. P.S. Jones Middle School also received $25,000 for enhancements, though the percentage of students receiving free or reduced lunch fell slightly under the trust’s requirement of 75 percent.

“The investment in Beaufort County’s local schools is a great example of the type of partnerships we hope to establish moving forward,” said J. Nelson-Weaver in an email. “The schools had ideas about new gyms and playgrounds long before Healthy Places was established, and the Trust is excited to help make the parents’ and teachers’ dreams a reality.”

Weaver, as senior program officer for the Trust, has been leading the Healthy Places work in Beaufort County, over the past year meeting with community leaders across the county to determine where the Trust’s funds could be used best.

According to a press release from Nora Ferrell, communications director with the trust, three community meetings will be held in Beaufort County in early June to educate people about the Healthy Places work and find out what residents think is needed to make Beaufort County a healthier place.

“We look forward to hearing from more local residents at our June community meetings,” said Nelson-Weaver.

Over the next decade, a $100 million investment is planned for 10 to 15 rural, low-income counties. Beaufort County was one of the first of three counties. In addition to the $315,000 grant to Beaufort County Schools, Beaufort/Hyde Partnership for Children received $183,590 and Mid-East Commission, $27,500.