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Grant will help City make healthy choices easy ones

The City executed a grant agreement with The Rapides Foundation for the 2016 Healthy Behaviors Program Grant Award. The Rapides Foundation offers grants to non-profits and local governments promoting healthy behavior by creating or improving opportunities for adults and youth in Central Louisiana to engage in safe, accessible activity and by increasing accessibility of healthy foods.

“I think this will be a great benefit for the Natchitoches community,” said Main Street Director Samantha Bonnette.

The $300,000 grant award will be dispersed over a three year grant term, ending Oct. 31, 2019.

Shawna Straub, assistant finance director wrote the grant.
According to Dallas Russell, Community Programs and Outreach Manager for the City,  the grant and the City’s involvement illustrates the many components that are coming together.

A $25,000 Healthy Behaviors Mini Grant from The Rapides Foundation went toward upgrades at the Ross Williams Park on Dean Street. The City is upgrading several parks in an effort to encourage healthy living among its residents.

“There’s tremendous potential in Natchitoches,” said Mayor Lee Posey. “The City is happy to be a part of anything involving healthy behavior. We’re trying to fit this theme into our parks by incorporating walking tracks.”

The City applied for the grant to accomplish the following goals:

Grow the Cane River Green Market by implementing a new mobile market which involves hiring someone full-time to organize the Green Market under the direction of the Main Street Office. It will also provide funds for the Kids Club at the market, which ran out of funds from its original grant. The city will purchase a vehicle for the mobile market.

New portable playground, will promote increased outdoor recreational opportunities by providing games for residents of all ages: jump rope, football toss, horseshoes, sack races, obstacles courses, volleyball, etc. The City will purchase a vehicle and the grant will provide funds for hiring someone part-time under the direction of Dallas Russell.

Mayor’s Health and Fitness Council comprised of community leaders who will address legislation and healthy initiatives. A part time staff will also be hired to help run the coalition and will be managed by Russell.

The implementation of these goals will help provide access to fresh, local produce to encourage healthy eating and access to play spaces to encourage physical activity.
“It’s about making healthy choices more accessible,” said Russell.