Y-GIG Afterschool Program Launched; Foundation YMCA Now Open Downtown

Following a summer sampler of activities for middle school youth, the Foundation YMCA kicked off Y-GIG (Youth Gather, Interact & Grow). The innovative afterschool program for middle school students started in fall 2022 at the new Foundation YMCA location in downtown Wilson with a wide range of activities such as cooking, robotics, literary chats, and web design, which were provided in collaboration with community partners.

Y-GIG and the new Foundation YMCA facility are part of a bold and strategic funding commitment of more than $25 million made by Healthcare Foundation of Wilson in 2018. The Foundation YMCA provides a special space and place in the heart of Wilson for the much-needed afterschool experiences that are now offered through the Y-GIG program for middle school youth from across the county.

“It is incredibly exciting to see our leadership’s vision becoming a reality with the launch of Y-GIG and the opening of Foundation YMCA,” said Denise O’Hara. “The promising outcomes are countless, and we look forward to seeing the many ways that Wilson youth and our entire community will benefit from the foundation’s investment in the creation of sustainable, high quality afterschool experiences and this positive, new place of health and wellness.”

Y-GIG Spring Session Starting Soon

The spring session of Y-GIG is scheduled to start March 13. Youth who enroll for Y-GIG will select activities from a menu of options for a 10-week session. Enriching activities are offered with a focus on academics, arts and humanities, college and career, health and wellness and STEM (science technology, engineering and mathematics).

Activities are provided onsite at the Foundation YMCA as well as within the community through partnerships with talented individuals and business leaders.

All middle school youth in Wilson County are eligible to enroll in Y-GIG. The Foundation YMCA offers a sliding scale rate, and scholarships are available. Students also have the option to select individual programs if they cannot attend full-time, and families can pay monthly or by session.

Y-GIG youth coordinators are assigned to each of the five middle schools in Wilson County, and transportation is provided from the five public schools to the Foundation YMCA and back to the schools.

Visit wilsonymca.org to learn more about enrollment for the next Y-GIG session.

Grant Funding Expands Healthy Experiences
for Youth

Wilson youth were on the move in 2022 with a healthy taste of new activities thanks to grants awarded to The Arc of Wilson, Love A Sea Turtle, The SPOT and Wilson Police Athletic League.

Over the summer, Wilson Police Athletic League (PAL) offered a menu of camp experiences that kicked off with a Culinary Camp session during spring break. Youth made dough from scratch and prepared a meal from start to finish! The chef from Wilson Community College included food and kitchen safety tips as part of the experience, and the PAL volunteers teamed up with the youth for the kitchen creations. The monthly summer camp sessions featured football, cheerleading, baseball, softball and volleyball.

The Arc of Wilson added daily exercises activities at Camp Sunshine for youth with intellectual or developmental disabilities. Camp participants also received healthy snacks and lessons about healthy choices.

Wilson youth also enjoyed a two-week sailing camp along with concurrent options for golf thanks to a grant-funded partnership between Love A Sea Turtle (LAST)  and The SPOT. The team expanded on their previously funded WOW (Wilson on Wheels) activities with new WOW (Wilson on Water) activities and other unique experiences to help develop physical fitness skills along with self-confidence.

Grant seekers have already submitted letters of inquiry to the foundation and are in the process of completing applications for 2023 funding. Healthcare Foundation of Wilson will announce new responsive grant awards in the summer. Learn more about what we fund and the responsive grant cycle.

Summit Provides Data for Community Health Needs Assessment

A local community health summit was hosted in late August to collect data needed for the 2022 Wilson Community Health Needs Assessment, which is a collaborative effort of Healthcare Foundation of Wilson, Wilson County Health Department and Wilson Medical Center.

Results of the full assessment will be published later in 2022, and each organization will address top health concerns with separate action plans. 

Read The Wilson Times to learn more about the summit, data collection and the needs assessment. 

Community Celebrates Wilson Changemakers and 2022 Grant Recipients

Healthcare Foundation of Wilson announced the 2022 responsive grant recipients over the summer with celebratory check presentations and the installation of banners to celebrate Changemakers of Wilson. Thirteen grant awards totaling $482,500 were awarded in July to support community projects that focus on solutions to some of the greatest health challenges for Wilson.

View the celebratory slideshow above.

Learn more about the 2022 Responsive Grant Awards. Read about more Wilson Changemakers in the latest 2019-2021 Community Report 

Healthcare Foundation of Wilson Announces 14 Responsive Grant Awards

WILSON, N.C. (July 11, 2022) – Healthcare Foundation of Wilson announces 14 grant awards totaling $482,500 to support community projects that focus on solutions to some of the greatest health challenges for Wilson.

Healthcare Foundation of Wilson provides responsive grants and strategic funding for programs that focus on sustainable solutions with measurable outcomes to address four of the community’s greatest health concerns, including adolescent pregnancy, alcohol and substance abuse, obesity and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). The following 2022 grants have been approved to fund initiatives that address one or more of the four areas of health concern:

Responsive Grants for 2022

“As we increase our investments in strategic funding initiatives with high potential for long-term, positive health outcomes, we remain committed to providing grant funding for projects that respond to current health needs and rising concerns in our community,” said Denise O’Hara, executive director of Healthcare Foundation of Wilson. “Our responsive grant funding since 2016 totals more than $6.8 million, and our total community funding-to-date is $54.6 million, which includes strategic grant funding and financial support for hospital improvements.”

Learn more about the 2022 Responsive Grant Awards.

Coming Soon! Future Home of Wilson’s New Middle School Afterschool Program Emerges Downtown

Excitement is building as construction progresses on the Foundation YMCA building –the future home of an innovative afterschool program for middle school youth that will launch in August 2022. The building and the much-needed youth program are being funded as the first strategic grant initiative of Healthcare Foundation of Wilson.

In 2018, Healthcare Foundation of Wilson made a bold commitment of $25 million in strategic grant funding and partnered with the YMCA to design, launch and sustain the afterschool program and building. Downtown Wilson was identified as a central location for this special place and space for youth that will be accessible to all middle school students in Wilson County.

“Together we are building a brighter future for children in Wilson County,” said Denise O’Hara, executive director of Healthcare Foundation of Wilson. “The countdown is on now, and we can’t wait to hear the buzz of youth activity that will fill the Foundation YMCA building during after school hours.”

Youth Engaged in Construction Project
Student groups have been engaged in the project progress in different ways from early on – even in the design of the building. One group is participating in an 18-month Construction Academy created and led by Balfour Beatty in joint venture with Holt Brothers to help give middle school students a look at the entire construction process.

“We are excited about the opportunities that are already evolving for middle school youth to participate in real and unique experiences,” said O’Hara. “Adolescence is a significant time of brain growth and development, and we know that the environment and activities of youth play a key role in decision-making and future success.”

Learn More!
Middle school students will be able to sign up soon for the afterschool program and select from a menu of experiences to discover their personal strengths, pursue their passions and explore new interests. The Foundation YMCA building is slated for completion by August 2022. To learn more about the 2022 program details and enrollment, contact Edwina Lucas at elucas@wilsonymca.org or call 252-218-2794.

Sitting Still in Class is Overrated at The SPOT

Kids at The SPOT might not be sitting still much in class, and that’s actually by design. “We want students to move when they need to and do what works best for them to learn,” said Matt Edwards, director at The SPOT. “Sitting still simply isn’t necessary as much as we tend to think it is in the classroom.”
With grant support from Healthcare Foundation of Wilson, The SPOT implemented “My Classroom MOVES” interactive classrooms in August 2021 to provide students with the opportunity to exercise and move more together or individually throughout the day. The flexible classrooms include rising desks, alternative seating, under-desk treadmills, and floor mats at each station. All ages starting at kindergarten can use the desks since the height is adjustable.
Flexible classrooms can increase engagement, empower student choice, increase oxygen flow to the brain, and improve metabolism. The teachers changed their approach a bit, and before long everyone began to realize the new opportunities. Now that everyone has gotten used to the change, Edwards says both students and teachers seem happy that they no longer have the repeated interruption of a teacher needing to tell students to sit still.

Students have the opportunity to use the desk at anytime during their classroom or homework sessions. They can track calorie burn on the elliptical, which creates a fun opportunity for friendly competitions and some self-motivation. Additionally the program coordinator developed a My Classroom Moves plan for teachers to utilize during their daily class time. For example, teachers can have students stand or use a specific component of the active desk stations while learning for the first 15 minutes of a class.
With a total of 70 desks located in six of nine classrooms at The SPOT, homework or class work can take place two times a day for up to 140 students. They’re using these active desks approximately 12 hours a week. Classrooms at The SPOT are used for more than just homework and tutoring so the new active stations are being used for various programs, including STEM, iPad Labs and Restore Circles.
Another creative way that The SPOT has been keeping students physically moving is with virtual field trips. By using Oculus Virtual Reality, they’ve set up a fun way for kids to physically move within a designated space as they navigate places like monuments in Washington D.C. or The Sistine Chapel. These virtual experiences provide a new kind of active learning that get kids moving and exploring places they might never see otherwise. 
“These changes have been extremely successful all around for our students who have ADHD or others who just need to move around more, as well as for those who prefer to sit still,” said Edwards. “When you give students the permission and ability to move freely, they find what works best on their own.”

Wilson Area School-Based Health Centers
Recognized by NC School Boards Association

Wilson County Schools Board of Education received an Award for Excellence in Educational Programs from the North Carolina School Boards Association for the Wilson Area School-Based Health (WASH) centers at Forest Hills Middle, Beddingfield High and Hunt High schools. Healthcare Foundation of Wilson provided funding to establish the WASH centers at all three locations.  
“We are grateful for the proactive mindset of Wilson County Health Department and Wilson County Schools for prioritizing the health and well-being of students so they can learn and thrive at school,” said Denise O’Hara. “This award-winning team is a remarkable example of collaboration for the greater good, and we are proud to be a funding partner.”
WASH provides accessible and affordable physical and preventative health services.  Any Wilson County Schools student or staff member can be seen by appointment at the WASH centers whether insured or noninsured. Same day appointments are available. To learn more or to schedule an appointment, call 252-360-0769 or send an email to wash@wilsonschoolsnc.net.

“WASH has benefited our students and staff tremendously – especially during the pandemic. It is a stellar example of what can be accomplished when school districts and community partners work together. More than 10,300 students and 1,700 staff members now have access to caring health providers right in our schools. I am grateful to the WASH staff for providing such excellent care to our students and staff, myself included, and thankful for the incredible community partners who made it possible. I look forward to our continued partnership and hope we will open more centers in the future.” 

– Dr. Lane Mills, Superintendent of Wilson County Schools

Healthcare Foundation of Wilson Surpasses $36 Million in Total Funding

Thirteen New Responsive Grants Awarded for the Greater Wilson Community

WILSON, N.C. (July 12, 2021) – With the recent approval of 13 new responsive grant awards for 2021, Healthcare Foundation of Wilson’s investments in collaborative health and wellness initiatives in the Greater Wilson Community has reached more than $36 million in funding support for the local community since the establishment of the foundation. 

Since 2014 Healthcare Foundation of Wilson has been committed to providing funding support for essential and strategic projects that improve the health and well-being of the people of greater Wilson. Funding has been provided to our community through four different avenues:

Responsive Grant Funding – $6.35 million 

Strategic Grant Funding -$5.9 million – Funding allocated to date for the Middle School Afterschool program and new YMCA facility. An additional $17 million in future funding has been approved for the initiative.

Restricted Funding – $626,992

Hospital Support -$23.56 million

Responsive grants and strategic funding support the Wilson community’s work to address adolescent pregnancy, alcohol and substance abuse, obesity, and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Restricted funding provides support through donated funds that are designated in specific areas of healthcare, and the hospital support has provided funding for construction and upgrades to the local hospital.

The 13 new responsive grant awards for 2021, which total $821,300, are to support nonprofit sustainable solutions and measurable outcomes related to one or more of the foundation’s four focus areas.

Responsive Grant Funding for 2021:

“As Healthcare Foundation of Wilson increases it’s investments in vision-driven, strategic funding initiatives, we remain committed to providing these annual, responsive grants for sustainable projects that focus on rising concerns and current needs to improve the health and wellness of the greater Wilson community,” said Denise O’Hara, executive director of Healthcare Foundation of Wilson. 

Learn more about the 2021 Responsive Grant Awards.

Third WASH clinic opens at Hunt High School

The third Wilson Area School-Based Health Clinic (WASH) opened at Hunt High School in early May 2021.  Healthcare Foundation of Wilson has provided more than $1.1 million in funding for three WASH clinics, including two previously opened locations at Forest Hills Middle School and Beddingfield High School.

The health clinics are staffed with a family nurse practitioner, and there is a registered nurse at each school.  Any student or staff member at Wilson County Schools can be seen at the on-site school clinics for wellness or sick visits. The clinics serve both the insured and uninsured.

Clinic services include but are not limited to the following:

  • Physical exams
  • Diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions
  • Immunizations
  • Acute care services
  • Health education related to physical fitness, sexual health, etc.
  • Blood pressure management
  • Diabetes management

Healthcare Foundation of Wilson is proud to partner with Wilson County Health Department, Wilson County Schools and Wilson County Department of Social Services to provide these services to our students.

Read more about the ribbon cutting ceremony.

Learn more about WASH clinic services.