2017-03-23 / Front Page

Building a Healthier Community


Past award recipients included the StarKids program (left) which supports low-income Newport County youth in active after-school and summer camp experiences. Bike Newport continued its growth of community-based biking programs to engage more youth to ride bicycles and explore their surroundings. (Photos provided) Past award recipients included the StarKids program (left) which supports low-income Newport County youth in active after-school and summer camp experiences. Bike Newport continued its growth of community-based biking programs to engage more youth to ride bicycles and explore their surroundings. (Photos provided) Now in its fifth year, Newport Hospital’s Frederick Henry Prince Memorial Fund is once again seeking to motivate residents to be proactive about their health through a grant program that supports innovative exercise and wellness programs.

Guillaume de Ramel, who serves on the committee that oversees the fund and whose family provided the endowment, said the idea is to inspire children to participate in an active lifestyle and carry those traits into adulthood.

Although nonprofit organizations in Newport County are encouraged to apply for a grant, which is named for de Ramel’s great-great-grandfather, individuals can easily request funds through a simple, accessible process.

“We’re trying to seed athletic entrepreneurs who want to start a paddle board tournament or road race but can’t figure out where to get funds,” de Ramel said.

Each year, there are more than 20 applications that the advisory committee reviews. It then makes recommendations to the Newport Hospital Foundation Board of Directors. Grant awards range from $1,500 to $10,000.

Lisette Prince, de Ramel’s mother, said her family started the program in 2012 after deciding it was a better way to use the funds than simply purchasing equipment or donating a room in her great-grandfather’s honor.

“The hospital’s mission is to focus on improving and maintaining the health of everyone in Newport County, so we thought this would be a better way to help the hospital,” she said. “It offers a way for residents of the county to be more proactive instead of reactive about their health and the overall wellness of the community.”

In the past, grants have been awarded to organizations such as the Norman Bird Sanctuary to hire teenagers as guides, to Bike Newport to fund a garage where children could learn how to care for and fix their bicycles, and to RhodySquash to develop a school program that teaches squash and provides academic mentoring. The funds have supported everything from community gardens to skate parks to rugby clubs.

Christopher Gray, coach and administrator of the Newport County Youth Rugby Football Club, said that the grant has allowed the club to add a high school girls team, a coed middle school introduction to contact rugby program, a coed flag rugby program for children in grades 3 to 6 and an eight-week “Rugby for All” program.

“Our club aligns perfectly with the vision and goals of the FHP Memorial Fund at Newport Hospital. Rugby helps to keep kids physically active with a uniquely fun outdoor sport for children of all shapes, sizes and abilities,” Gray said. “Our goal is to get more kids to put down the devices and pick up a rugby ball and run with it.”

Kathy Stark, executive director of the Newport chapter of the Star Kids Scholarship Program, said the grant has allowed them to provide kids with healthy, active and supervised after-school and summer camp experiences, regardless of a family’s ability to pay. In 2016- 17, 20 Newport-area children participated in after-school programs and another 32 attended summer camp.

“We know that physical activity is essential for mental, physical and emotional development in children, so providing our Star Kids with quality, out-of-school outlets helps encourage life-long active lifestyles, increases their confidence and self-esteem and improves their athletic, team and leadership skills,” she said. “For low-income, disadvantaged children, in particular, there are fewer opportunities for daily fitness, especially when school is not in session.”

Today, more than 50 grants totaling $291,000 have been awarded to individuals and organizations throughout the county. Applications for the grant can be submitted online at poweredbyprince.com until March 31.

Lynne Tungett, with staff reporting

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