Trust seeks healthy ideas

Published 8:44 pm Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Representatives from Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust are sending out a message to the health-oriented: tell us what Beaufort County needs.

The public is invited to share their views as to what will make Beaufort County a healthier place at three community forums strategically placed throughout the county next week. The first two meetings, in Aurora and Washington, are slated for June 3; the third will take place in Belhaven on June 4.

The meetings are part of the Healthy Places process, a Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust initiative in which over $100 million will be poured in 10 to 15 North Carolina counties over the next 10 years. Beaufort County was one of the first three chosen to take part in Healthy Places. Since, J. Nelson-Weaver, Healthy Places’ program director, has spent the past year meeting one on one with community partners focused on the health of area residents. In mid-May the Trust announced recipients a dispersal of funds including $315,000 to Beaufort County Schools for renovations to playgrounds, playgrounds, basketball courts, gymnasiums and other recreational facilities at nine local schools.

Now the upcoming forums represent an opportunity for the average resident to be a part of the process—to determine what’s working and what could be done to make Beaufort County a healthier place, according to Nora Ferrell, ???? with the Trust.

“We’d like to hear from anyone in the community in Beaufort County who is interested in health and healthcare issues,” Ferrell said. “We really are being honest when we say we’re doing things that people in Beaufort County want. It’s a community-based process.”

The Healthy Places initiative and the method are in their early stages — the Trust is shaping the program in Beaufort, Halifax and McDowell counties — but they found success in the Halifax County community forum held last October, according to Ferrell.

“We had lots of great questions, lots of great input as to what they would like to see,” Ferrell said. “There were lots of suggestions for existing programs that could be built upon.”

Having input from the community will further enable the initiative to work for Beaufort County, specifically, she said.

“We’re not doing a cookie-cutter approach to every county. Each county is different … we’re looking at what is most helpful to residents,” Ferrell said.

The forum is also an opportunity to learn what the county health rankings actually mean from the people who make them: County Health Rankings & Roadmaps.

“A lot of attention has been paid to these health rankings and we thought it would be helpful for them to come and show what the health rankings say about Beaufort County,” Ferrell said, adding that questions about the rankings are welcome.

The Aurora Healthy Places community forums will take place June 3 from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the Aurora Community Center, 442 Third St.; in Washington, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on June 3 at Washington Civic Center; in Belhaven, on June 4 from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., at the Wilkinson Center, 144 West Main Street. Snacks and refreshments will be available.