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Grants focus on youth, wellness programs

• Jun 5, 2019 at 3:00 PM

The Board of the Grand Haven Area Community Foundation, together with the foundation’s Youth Advisory Council, recently announced nine second-round grant awards, totaling $203,015 in support of Northwest Ottawa County and surrounding communities.

This includes a $25,000 grant to the City of Ferrysburg for a new playground at Fire Barn Park, located at the intersection of 174th Avenue and North Shore Road. The park offers recreation to lakeshore visitors and residents, and local schools and day cares. The equipment on the existing playground is more than 45 years old and limited in use, but the new park equipment will be universally accessible to serve the needs of all.

The design will be firefighter-themed to reflect the name of the park and the adjacent fire department. A firehose climbing wall, a fire pole and a ladder truck with a steering wheel are among some of the new playscape equipment.

The new playground will be constructed by volunteers from the community in late September.

Ferrysburg City Manager Craig Bessinger said the grant puts the city’s campaign near the goal of $104,000 for the playground equipment. Donations are still being accepted for the campaign and can be made to the City of Ferrysburg.

Other grants awarded by the GHACF:

Children’s Advocacy Center: $93,125 for Kidz Have Rights Evidence-Informed Updates, which will expand and update the center’s Body Safety Training program to provide a comprehensive program for lower elementary students. Ottawa County has the highest rate of reported sexual abuse in Michigan. By increasing Body Safety Training to encompass grades K-4, the number of children reached will more than double from approximately 8,000 to 19,000. In an effort to guarantee program success, funding is also designated for supplies and materials for schools within the Grand Haven, Spring Lake, Allendale and Coopersville school districts over the next three years.

The Tri-Cities Family YMCA: $15,000 for Tri-Cities Family YMCA Young Adult Leadership and Development Program for camp counselors ages 18-22. The program will impact approximately 28 counselors and camp staff annually, and will transform summer employment at the Y into an opportunity to further enhance post-secondary and career success. In addition to approximately 25 hours of direct instruction and individual coaching sessions through a partnership with the Chamber of Commerce of Grand Haven-Spring Lake-Ferrysburg, participants will strengthen “soft” skills such as communication, collaboration and confidence — all of which contribute to effective and harmonious interactions with peers and colleagues.

Michigan Edge Mountain Biking Association: $15,000 for Mosquito Creek Trails, the second of a three-phase plan to create more than 10 miles of regional, year-round, multi-use, professionally built trails in central Muskegon County. Ottawa County currently has three trail systems for mountain bikers — at Hofma Park, Bass River Recreation Area and Upper Macatawa — but none are longer than 4 miles and some provide limited access throughout the year. Additionally, Ottawa County lacks the topographic relief for bike trails outside of the sand dunes, which are too fragile of an ecosystem to cut in a system of mountain bike trails. The Mosquito Creek Trails will be functional for a variety of sports and leisure activity, including mountain biking, fat-tire biking, cross-country skiing, hiking, running and walking.

Northwest Ottawa County Chamber Foundation: $15,000 to sustain and develop the health and wellness programming at the Grand Haven and Spring Lake farmers markets. Programming includes, but is not limited to, the management of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Double Up Food Bucks, Prescription for Health, Senior Project Fresh, WIC, and the Power of Produce Kids Club. Each of these programs at the local farmers markets increases access to healthy, fresh and locally grown foods for those who may otherwise experience financial limitations, while also enhancing our local economy by reimbursing local food growers and producers.

Grand Haven Musical Fountain Audio Project: $20,000 to the campaign to help cover the additional expenses needed to repair the fountain’s speaker houses. The additional funds will allow contractors to repair the concrete slab on which the houses sit.

City of Grand Haven: $13,200 to combat the hemlock woolly adelgid, an invasive insect from Asia that threatens the 3,500-plus hemlock trees in our community, the majority of which are located in Duncan Memorial Park and Mulligan’s Hollow. Many of those trees could die in the next 5-7 years if not properly treated.

The foundation’s Youth Advisory Council awarded the following grants:

Extended Grace: $5,000 to support Gaining Momentum: An Event to Address Mental Illness and Cultural Awareness. This event aims to help people understand and identify the symptoms of anxiety, create an open dialogue between teens and parents around mental health using facilitated conversations, and incorporate cultural awareness opportunities for both youth and their parents. The keynote speaker is Fable the Poet, a nationally recognized speaker on youth mental health.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Lakeshore: $1,690 for Cooking Matters for Teens, a six-week class that will expose “littles” and their “bigs” to healthy eating habits and nutrition education. They will also take a trip to the local farmers market to purchase ingredients for the class. The program strives to provide students with the resources to make healthy meals on a budget in a supportive environment.

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