William Swanston Charitable Fund awards $321,000 in wellness grants

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The William Swanston Charitable Fund announced on Wednesday $321,000 in 2015 grants for 10 initiatives focused on health and wellness of at-risk children.

The Swanston Children’s Fund, which is dedicated to improving the lives of at-risk children, also announced continuing support for ongoing health and fitness programs in Mahoning and Trumbull counties.

“We are impressed by the initiatives local leaders are crafting to create more opportunities for local children to lead healthier, safer and more fulfilling lives,” Paul M. Dutton, chairman of the Swanston Children’s Fund, said in a news release. “The Swanston Children’s Fund is very pleased to leverage resources behind creative and dedicated professionals who care about our Valley’s children.”

Highlights of this year’s grants include $37,000 to expand two programs rooted in adaptive sports and recreation activities for children with disabilities.

Adaptive Sports Program of Ohio plans to expand its wheelchair basketball, softball, hockey and track programs for children and teenagers into Trumbull County. The organization plans to use its $25,000 Swanston Children’s Fund grant to buy more equipment and boost outreach activities.

“Adaptive sports programs are excellent for building physical health and self-esteem, but they are very expensive and many families cannot afford the cost for equipment,” Dutton said. “We are fortunate to have this program in the Mahoning Valley and excited about expanding it to children in Trumbull County.”

ASP Ohio, based in Wooster, started adaptive sports programs in Mahoning County last year and recently opened a satellite office in Youngstown.

Meanwhile, the Children’s Rehabilitation Center in Howland is expanding its year-old “Investing in Fitness for the Physically Challenged” initiative. Programming for the center’s $12,000 grant includes more exercise opportunities at the center and off-site, and sharing each child’s specific care plan with school officials and doctors to encourage routine participation in healthy lifestyle activities. The expanded effort also includes work with physical therapy, exercise science and nutrition students from nearby universities.

The Swanston Children’s Fund also approved $32,000 for the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation’s “Better Block” program, which will stage day-long festivals in two neighborhoods this year and two in 2016 to showcase their potential for healthier and safer conditions.

Better Block, a success in Cleveland, Nashville, Indianapolis, Portland and other large U.S. cities, “temporarily transforms city streets into safer and more inviting pedestrian areas,” the YNDC said in its application for the grant. The program promotes walking, biking, community pride and collaborative solutions that reduce crime and boost safety.

The events will feature temporary changes to traffic flows, bicycle lanes, outdoor eating and socializing areas, bicycle drawings, helmet giveaways, health fair activities, kids’ games, cooking demonstrations and local food and entertainment. The activities will be organized by teams of neighborhood residents and experienced organizers.

The Swanston Children’s Fund also announced grants to these seven organizations:

  • Akron Children’s Hospital, $150,000 for its Mahoning Valley Healthy Kids Coalition initiative, representing second-year funding for the effort launched last year.
  • Warren City Schools, $40,000 for the second part of the Warren Fitness Challenge, which promotes nutrition and physical fitness.
  • Mercy Health Foundation, $25,000 for its Resource Mothers program, which aims to improve prenatal care and discourage childhood obesity.
  • Compass Family & Youth Services, $20,000 for its Daybreak Youth Crisis Shelter, a 10-bed, 24-hour emergency shelter for children and teenagers.
  • Children’s Hunger Alliance, $10,000 for its after-school food program at 11 sites in Youngstown.
  • Homes for Kids, $5,000 for its Bicycling Equals Empowerment Program (BEEP).
  • Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership, $2,000 for its Giving Tree Garden, a community garden to educate children in Warren’s Garden District neighborhood.

“Each of these programs addresses the harsh challenges confronting many at-risk children in our community,” Dutton said. “The Swanston Children’s Fund and the Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley are proud to be associated with each of these initiatives and we appreciate the professionals who are working hard to meet the needs of at-risk children.”

The William Swanston Charitable Fund, established in 1919, seeks to help improve the lives of at-risk children in Mahoning and Trumbull counties. It provides grants each year that support early childhood education, health and fitness initiatives, after-school programs, parent-involvement seminars, anti-bullying measures and many other efforts in support of local children. The Swanston Children’s Fund is an affiliate of the Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley.

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