Oklahoma City Community Foundation awards grants, creates comprehensive fitness website 

click to enlarge Patrons working out during the lunch hour recently at the Main Street YMCA.  mh
  • Patrons working out during the lunch hour recently at the Main Street YMCA. mh

Oklahoma City Community Foundation (OCCF) awarded more than $160,000 in grants to four organizations in June. It launched its Wellness Initiative last year, and another round of recipients will be named in October.

Cathy Nestlen, OCCF director, said it launched the initiative in response to data about the overall health of Oklahomans.

“The numbers in central Oklahoma showed a need to improve lifestyles and nutrition,” Nestlen said, “so we decided to launch the Wellness Initiative to help improve those numbers.”

A grant was awarded to Oklahoma Foundation for the Disabled (OFD) to support its work improving the quality of life of developmentally disabled adults. OFD provides adult day services — such as transportation, activities, socialization and recreation — across the state.

Each grant recipient must meet at least one of the criteria in the OK 5210 Program. Implemented locally by the YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City, it is a national initiative to improve the health and nutrition of children and adults.

The numbers stand for five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, less than two hours of television or screen time, one hour of physical activity and zero sugary drinks.

“Our board liked the program so much that we decided to make it part of our criteria for funding,” Nestlen said.

OCCF awarded $30,000 to Rainbow Fleet, Inc. for materials and training that helps caregivers implement the OK 5210 Program in central Oklahoma.

Rainbow Fleet also helps parents find childcare and works with teachers on training and resources.

A $50,000 grant went to Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma to help fund a collaborative health initiative in which the hunger relief charity works with Mary Mahoney Memorial Health Center and Integris Community Clinic to provide better access to nutritional education and healthier food options to at-risk families.

The third grant went to University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center for a program provided in conjunction with YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City that helps families with obese children between ages 6 and 12.

Nestlen said the grant process — most of which is done online — begins with a conversation with a member of the foundation’s staff to assess whether the proposed project meets the criteria. Then, the applicant receives a password to complete the application online.

“The criteria includes requirements that the grants be awarded to projects that are sustainable and can be replicated,” Nestlen said. “We focus on programming and direct impact instead of facilities or infrastructure.”

OCCF requires quarterly reports from recipients so it can measure results.

“We want to see what works,” Nestlen said. “We study the reports to see what elements make for a successful program. We’re learning as we go.”

Physically fit

OCCF also created a comprehensive website, GetMovingOKC.org, as a “one-stop spot” that provides the tools needed to help Oklahomans become healthier.

The foundation recognized a need for a website that aggregates and localizes information about the myriad free and low-cost health and fitness opportunities available within the community.

“Since 2007, our website has had a section called Great Places to Walk, where we featured public parks and areas where anyone could go and walk or run,” said Sally Ray, program officer for OCCF’s Wellness Initiative. “We simply added more ways to be active — running, rowing, biking and water sports — and it grew from there.”

click to enlarge Sally Ray poses for a photo at Dolese Park in Oklahoma City, Monday, Aug. 3, 2015. - GARETT FISBECK
  • Garett Fisbeck
  • Sally Ray poses for a photo at Dolese Park in Oklahoma City, Monday, Aug. 3, 2015.

One goal was to show site visitors that physical activity does not have to be difficult or expensive, regardless of one’s fitness level.

Once there, users will find activities, directions and information about which public trails and tracks are available for walking, running or biking. It also provides details about parks, lakes, rivers and streams where people can swim, row, kayak, sail or paddleboard.

“Our hope is that this website will also be a resource for visitors to our city,” Ray said. “We want those who come to Oklahoma City for business or pleasure to know that we have lots of opportunities for them to be physically active while they’re here and that those opportunities are available throughout the metro.”

She encouraged local residents to submit information about upcoming events and outdoor activities via the new website.

“We know that we do not have all the information included yet and that there’s probably someone out there who knows about some gem of a trail or a wonderful event,” she said.

Improving the health and wellness of residents is something Ray said OCCF is excited about, and launching this website is an important first step.

“We know we have a long way to go,” Ray said, “but we believe the culture is changing in Oklahoma City and our citizens are craving opportunities to improve their personal and the greater community’s well-being. We hope to support that and make a difference where we can. GetMovingOKC.org is simply one way we think we can help.”

Learn more about the grant process at occf.org or by calling Ray at 606-2930.

Print headline: Fitting grants, Oklahoma City Community Foundation dispersed thousands of grant dollars and launched a website to help get our state be more healthy.

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