Lewiston Community Health Options awards grants to 10 nonprofits


Lewiston-based Community Health Options has awarded grants to 10 Maine nonprofits focused on encouraging physical activity to improve overall health and well-being in the state.

Grant recipients include Boys & Girls Club of Bangor, Central Maine Community Health Corporation (Healthy Androscoggin), Fit Girls of Wilton Maine, Healthy Communities of the Capital Area, Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians, Intercultural Community Center, Operation ReBoot Outdoors, Teens to Trails, Tree Street Youth Inc. and Women for Healthy Rural Living.

Community Health Options is Maine’s only nonprofit health insurer and plan administrator, according to a press release from the nonprofit organization.

“From fly fishing programs that will benefit our veterans to outdoor enrichment programs for youth, it is inspiring to see the healthy initiatives that impact our communities across the state,” said said Kevin Lewis, president and CEO of Health Options. “We are thrilled to support these community organizations that will positively impact the lives of Mainers for years to come.”

By supporting these organizations, Health Options seeks to shine a light on Maine’s nonprofit organizations building the foundation for wellness through physical activity. At Teens to Trails, the team gears up for their Explorer Clubs for nature and outdoor activities across the state.

Teens to Trails Executive Director Alicia Heyburn said, “Sharing time outdoors provides essential nourishment, inspiration and fulfillment in the lives of our young people who are the future stewards of our earth. We are excited to offer Outdoor Explorer programs for middle school students in partnership with Maine Recreation Services.

Healthy Androscoggin looks forward to creating a storytelling trail at Park Avenue Elementary School in Auburn with funding from Healthy Options. “The trail will encourage physical activity for students and community members while reading their favorite stories in the school garden and orchard,” said Emily Smith, Health Promotion Coordinator.

Tree Street Youth, Inc., also in the Androscoggin area, plans to create more outdoor programs for children and teens. According to Julia Sleeper, co-founder and executive director, “These funds will be used to help get our young people out and create opportunities for them to explore, learn and foster healthy lifestyles from an early age.”

Similarly, in Westbrook, “the funding will enable the Intercultural Community Center to provide free, structured physical activity opportunities to immigrant, low-income, and historically marginalized families,” said Christopher Feely, director of the center’s youth program. “Young people and adults will be able to participate in a wide range of fun and healthy activities, such as swimming, basketball, gymnastics, hiking and aerobic exercise.”

A Maine nonprofit focused on veterans’ well-being will also benefit from a health options grant. Speaking at Operations Reboot Outdoors, the organization’s president, Nicole White, said, “We believe in the healing powers of the outdoors as a critical weapon in the fight against the epidemic of veteran suicide. The Community Health Options Grant will help fund our fly fishing and fly tying seminars, allowing us to bridge the gap between military and civilian life for an additional 80 veterans, military and law enforcement officers every year.

Health Options will run another round of grants in the fall to support small, community-based programs that encourage physical activity as a way to improve overall health and well-being.

For more information, visit health-options.org.


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