Grassroots Effort: Grow Carter County receives $5,000 grant for healthy initiatives

Published 7:40 pm Monday, September 18, 2017

With Carter County focusing on becoming a healthy community, the state is starting to take notice.
Grow Carter County forged ahead in the process of being designated as a Healthier Tennessee Community Monday afternoon by receiving a $5,000 grant from the Governor’s Foundation for Health and Wellness to assist with projects to help serve the residents of the county and promote healthy living.
Counties across the state are currently working toward receiving status as a Healthier Tennessee Community, which allows grant opportunities and other necessary materials for communities to promote healthier lifestyles.
Even though the designation is still on the horizon, Monday was a monumental moment for the group, according to Grow Carter County Chairman Josh McKinney.
“We’ve been working toward this for six months,” McKinney said. “It’s awesome to check that box, but it’s even more exciting to talk about the different projects we have lined up. We’re going to use the money for the people of the community. There are so many people involved with the movement. With over 30 to 40 members involved, these projects are so diverse and unique. We can’t wait to get started on them.”
With funding to work with, Grow Carter County will delve into five different projects:
• Youth Tobacco/Substance Abuse conducting a Tobacco Take Back Day
• A story trail, starting at the library and ending at the Tweetsie Trail to encourage families to read stories as they walk through the city.
• Grow Carter County Rocks & #HealthySelfie social media blitz, using painted rocks which can be discovered on different walking trails in the county.
• Providing a staff member to community gardens and Build It Up gardens in the county to help with tilling and maintenance
•Covering the cost to install a water bottle station at Little Milligan Elementary and using additional funds to “match and leverage” other community sponsorships to get stations at the remaining ten county schools.
The $5,000 grant was achieved thanks in part different churches and businesses partnering with the group for the “Small Starts” programs and K-5 teachers in the school system utilizing the GoNoodle program to promote physical activity for students.
Stacy Baugues, regional director for the Governor’s Foundation for Health and Wellness, was on site Monday and presented Grow Carter County committee members with the check.
“Before communities are designated, in the first year of the program, we have the $5,000 grant opportunity for engaging the workplaces, churches and school systems,” Baugues said. “The idea for the grant is for it to go back into the initiatives they’re working at to receive the designation.”
Baugues added Carter County would have the eligibility to be designated as a Healthier Tennessee Community in February.
“It has been wonderful,” Baugues said about working alongside the county representatives. “ We aren’t going to become a healthier state if we don’t have that type of engagement at the local level. The more partners on board, with a group like Grow Carter County, will only make a positive difference moving forward in the community.”
Additional funding could also be on the horizon, according to McKinney. The chairman stated the goal moving forward is to get started on the projects and continue to spread the word of Grow Carter County.
“There is no cap on this group,” McKinney said. “This isn’t one person’s issue. This isn’t one small community’s problem. The goal is to promote healthier lifestyles. We want to get as many people as involved so we can make as big of a difference as possible.”
McKinney praised the efforts of everyone involved, including the Carter County Health Department, which helped spearhead the initiative. United Way of Elizabethton/Carter County is operating as the fiscal sponsor of the organization.
Another element to Monday’s event was Bob’s Dairyland catering to attendees. A popular attraction in Roan Mountain, the established has started offering healthier food items to encourage citizens to have a healthier life.
Citizens can still get involved in a variety of ways, too.
Grow Carter County meets every second Wednesday at 1 p.m. The next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 11, at 1 p.m. at Medical Care. Businesses and organizations can also join the group as a sponsor or supporter. Additional information can be discovered by visiting the Grow Carter County Facebook page online.

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