From school playgrounds to community gardens, Wholespire awards mini-grants to 13 communities across the state

HEAL Mini-Grants

What do you do when your community doesn’t have a safe place to be active or needs new ways to get nutritious food? You apply for a Wholespire Healthy Eating and Active Living (HEAL) Mini-Grant. Thirteen communities will receive funding in the coming months for projects that support populations that need community resources like playground equipment, school gardens, and water refill stations.

“These types of resources tend to be barriers for people who want to lead healthy lives but may not be able to afford a gym membership or spend much on fresh fruits and vegetables,” said Meg Stanley, executive director at Wholespire. “We want to change that by assisting communities that truly need help with providing their residents safe places to be active and alternative and affordable ways to access nutritious food.”

Wholespire received 76 HEAL Mini-grant applications, a 111% increase from last year. Mini-grants are given once a year, and funding is limited to up to $5,000 per application. According to Stanley, “The response from communities speaks to the need for local governments and other local entities to take a closer look at the needs and wants of their communities. People want to live healthy lives, but a majority of them don’t have access to healthy choices.”

The HEAL Mini-grants also focus on making communities more equitable and reducing health disparities. Communities, neighborhoods, and schools differ because of location, income, race, and other socioeconomic factors. These factors, in addition to county health statistics, are used in scoring applications, making it a competitive process.

The 13 mini-grant recipients are listed below in no particular order:

  • City of West Columbia (Lexington County) –Install bicycle racks in highly-traveled areas to increase parking options for cyclists who bike to eat, shop, work, and visit.
  • Promised Land Walking Track Improvements (Greenwood County) – Build upon a county-funded walking track by installing picnic tables, swings, and trash cans.
  • Town of Ridge Spring Bike and Park Improvements (Saluda County) – Install bike racks at the farmer’s market to encourage biking and upgrade playground equipment at the local park that encourages musical play and interaction.
  • Fresh Food Initiative through Education (Beaufort County) – Rebuild existing raised garden beds at Whale Branch Elementary School, create a dedicated outdoor classroom space, and establish a food distribution point on the campus to feed families.
  • Swing set in rural Fairfield County (Fairfield County) – Install a swing set at Rufus Belton Park, an area with limited play equipment for children.
  • School Garden for Science and Nutrition Exploration (Clarendon County) – Build a garden at Manning Elementary School to foster science and nutrition education for students and distribute food to families.
  • Eat Better, Feel Better, Move Better (Georgetown County) – Teach children how and when to plant and care for fruits and veggies through a school garden in The Sunshine Place Daycare’s outdoor classroom.
  • School Community Active Pathways and Blacktop Games (Oconee County) – Paint an active pathway on Salem Elementary School’s paved walking path and Foursquare courts in the recess area.
  • F2UEL Up: Food and Fitness Used in Energizing Lives Up (Laurens County) – Create a fueling station for YMCA of Clinton guests that provides free produce, pantry items, and other staples gathered, gleaned, and purchased from local food partners.
  • Hampton Elementary School Playground Revitalization (Hampton County) – Revive the school playground by installing a multi-climbing unit that gives students an option for physical activity.
  • Upgrading Basketball Court of Knights Hill Park (Kershaw County) – Upgrade the basketball court, located in Camden, to give young people an opportunity to be physically active while having fun.
  • The Franklin School Hydration Station (Spartanburg County) – Install water bottle fill stations on the playground for children at the child development center.
  • Society Hill Community Gardens (Darlington) – Create raised bed community garden plots for low-income families to use and harvest their own fresh fruits and vegetables.

The next application will open in 2023. To learn more, visit our HEAL Mini-Grant webpage. The HEAL Mini-Grant initiative is made possible by a grant from the BlueCross® BlueShield® of South Carolina Foundation, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.