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Health + Wellness : For Good

180 Health + Wellness Articles | Page: | Show All

NKY woman makes strides against nutritional poverty

When Monica Remmy settled on a place to live and made the decision to purchase a house, she found herself drawn to Northern Kentucky—more specifically Newport—because of its walkability and amenities.
“There’s a family-run butcher, two small theaters in walking distance—there’s a lot around here,” Remmy says.
The area is one Remmy appreciates, but she also understands the various needs of her community.
She lives just down the street from the Henry Hosea House—a nonprofit that serves those in need. And it’s the only Northern Kentucky facility that serves a hot evening meal seven days a week.
A few Christmases ago when Remmy couldn’t travel to Tennessee to visit her mother—who Remmy says grew up in Appalachia and knew what it was like to live in poverty—she took the money she would have spent on presents and instead bought items for the Hosea House.
“I dropped everything off and told them I have skills in graphic design and would like to help if I can,” Remmy says.
She later found herself putting together a fresh food drive for the organization, and spent most of 2011 helping the Hosea House apply for—and receive—a $30,000 grant to combat nutritional poverty.
“As part of the three things we wanted to do around nutritional poverty, I led a project on Hosea House’s behalf and put together a garden,” says Remmy, who now serves as volunteer manager for the garden, where she works to plant and harvest fresh produce for use in the soup kitchen.  
From non-GMO Roma tomatoes donated from someone in the neighborhood to plants offered from the individual on the other side of the neighboring fence, the backyard plot of land has transformed into a focal point in the community.
“Everyone who walked by stopped to say how beautiful it was or how impressed they were with how tall things were getting, and it really brought a nice little bright spot,” Remmy says. “And all of the produce that isn’t used in the kitchen to prepare the meals is given out to the guests. It wasn’t even definite we’d get it off the ground that first year, but we did, and it’s been amazing.”  

Do Good:

Support the Hosea House. Remmy's goal is to restore funding for educational programs with local school children at the garden. 

Contact Remmy if you would like to volunteer with the garden. 

• Support the Hosea House by donating needed items.

By Brittany York
Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a project manager for Charitable Words. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 


Interact for Health brings Cook for America to three local school districts

Three local school districts are participating in Cook for America’s three-phase program so they can offer healthy eating options and scratch cooking in their cafeterias next school year.
Interact for Health, formerly The Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati, is funding this $150,000 initiative for the Erlanger-Elsmere, Milford and Norwood School Districts.
When combined, these districts serve more than 16,000 area students.
“We’re looking at how to create healthy environments so people really can have healthy food and physical activity at their disposal so they can become healthier,” says Jaime Love, Interact for Health’s program officer for healthy eating and active living.
Participating schools are currently in the first phase of the program, which involves food assessment—looking at the schools’ kitchens, what is being served within them, how food is being prepared, and what districts can do to budget for healthier options and food preparation techniques. 
“We’re trying to focus on how to make it affordable and also effective, because they’re short on staff and short on time,” Love says.
The second phase of the program kicks off this summer when participating districts send their culinary staff members to Cook for America’s five-day Lunch Teachers Culinary Boot Camp.
“They’ll go through training about food prep, food safety, creating menus, and literally learning how they can do scratch cooking in schools and make it taste good and be affordable and within their budgets,” Love says.
Cook for America chefs will then do follow-up visits at each school’s kitchen to provide assistance in implementing the changes, which will begin to take place during the 2014-15 school year.
“Schools have a huge impact on our students and the food that they eat, which in turn also impacts students as learners,” Love says. “We really want schools to be a place where kids can get healthy foods and really receive the nourishment that they need, and we want schools to believe that they can do this.”

Do Good:

• Contact your local district's superintendent or food service director, and encourage healthier options in your schools.

• Eat fresh fruits and vegetables, and aim for physical activity 3-5 days a week. 
• Like Interact for Health on Facebook.

By Brittany York
Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a project manager for Charitable Words. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

Cincinnati Zoo event aims to help restore region's tree canopy

Editor's Note: This event has been rescheduled for Saturday, February 1.

If restoring the region’s tree canopy and preparing it for the future is a cause for which you’re passionate, you’re invited to take part in the Taking Root campaign’s Great Tree Summit 2014.
The Great Tree Summit, which takes place at The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden Saturday, January 25, is a way for community members to brainstorm and form strategies to help Taking Root reach its goal of planting 2 million trees by 2020.
“We don’t want to just pump information toward people. We want them to now really get involved,” says Jody Grundy, environmental activist and campaign leader.
Saturday’s Summit will consist of breakout sessions where individuals form teams based on specific actions, like educating or communicating with others about Taking Root’s efforts, in addition to discussing how particular areas within the campaign’s eight-county, three-state region, can join together to organize specific plans of action within one’s community.
“Large trees and native trees are very important to stabilize the whole environment and all the species that are dependent on them,” Grundy says. “We want to bring to people’s attention the importance of trees and to communicate that we should not take for granted a resource we all depend on. We all need to be players in this.”

Do Good:

Register to attend the Great Tree Summit 2014 Saturday, January 25 from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden.

• Plant a tree and register it to count toward the 2 million-tree goal. 

• Like and share Taking Root's Facebook page.

By Brittany York
Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a project manager for Charitable Words. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

Memories in the Making empowers individuals with dementia

The Alzheimer’s Association launched its Memories in the Making program in 1986 when Selly Jenny, an artist living in Orange County, Calif. began to explore the ways patients with dementia could express themselves through art.
“Her father had dementia, and as his verbal skills were declining and she’d go for visits, she realized it was harder to communicate,” says Joan Hock, Memories in the Making and social engagement coordinator at the Alzheimer’s Association of Greater Cincinnati. “So they started painting together, and she found that he really became very engaged and showed a lot of pleasure in painting.”
At the local chapter of this national nonprofit, 13 residential facilities in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky participate in the program, while two open community sites host this free program for individuals in the early stages of dementia.
“We also have what’s called Time for Caregivers—it’s a place where family members receive support,” Hock says. “We want it to be a wellness model—talk with them about various things they can do for themselves and also give them a break.”
About eight individuals participate in each MIM session, which is hosted by an artist facilitator while caregivers engage in enrichment activities and supportive fellowship at the same time.
Hock says the greatest successes for individuals in the program are that they’re able to engage in an activity that creates normalcy during an otherwise turbulent time, and they’re also able to create artwork—sometimes expressing a memory—that they can share with the world.
“People use very bright, very vibrant colors as they’re making choices,” Hock says. “And you’re nurturing yourself as you go through that.”  

Do Good: 

Purchase tickets for the Alzheimer's Association of Greater Cincinnati's spring benefit The Art of Making Memories at Horseshoe Casino. While there, say hello to MIM artists and bid on the artwork they've created. 

• Support the Alzheimer's Association of Greater Cincinnati and its Memories in the Making program by purchasing MIM notecards.

• Learn about the Memories in the Museum program, and attend a session. 

By Brittany York
Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a project manager for Charitable Words. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia.

Cincinnati Bengals provide grant for head injury detection in high school athletes

Thanks to a grant from the Cincinnati Bengals, Mercy Health is now able to provide funds to its 28 partner high schools for Immediate Post Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing.
“It’s all over the news—the danger in returning kids or adults back to play, or back to the classroom before their brain is healthy,” says Pamela Scott, athletic director of Anderson High School.
Because head injuries have been so widely publicized as of late, Scott says student athletes are starting to become more aware of the issues an early return to play presents; but with ImPACT testing, an early return is no longer a possibility.
Prior to the start of the school year, all student athletes involved in contact sports will undergo initial baseline testing, which measures various cognitive skills.
“Then after a head injury occurs, they go back and take the test and compare results to the baseline test and post-test, and that way they can safely determine if the athlete’s ready to come back.” Scott says.
Anderson High School has used ImPACT testing since 2010, but many schools are not fortunate enough to be able to afford the testing materials and technology it requires. With the recent grant, however, student athletes in Mercy’s network will now be much safer than in years past.
“They’re playing in front of their home crowd, get hit in the head, want to get back in—so there’s a tendency to not be accurate when the trainer’s asking them questions—because they want to go back in,” Scott says. “So even if they have a headache and are dizzy, they might not tell the trainer the truth. Now that’s no longer an option.” 

Do Good: 

Support Mercy Health through its online Giving Store.

• Support athletics in your local school district, and encourage the use of ImPACT testing. 

• Like Mercy Health on Facebook.

By Brittany York
Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a project manager for Charitable Words. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 


Sunday Salon series raises funds for domestic violence survivor services

More than 90 percent of domestic violence survivors seeking services in Ohio will not go to a shelter; but at Women Helping Women, non-residential services like court and law enforcement advocacy, in addition to support groups, are provided to more than 12,000 survivors each year.
To help fund these services throughout Hamilton and Butler counties, WHW is hosting its Sunday Salon series for the 18th year. 
“The salons run from socially conscious to just plain fun,” says Kendall Fisher, Women Helping Women’s executive director. “What’s kind of neat about them is they mirror the way the agency was formed—it’s a small group of community members coming together to make a difference—so you really get a chance to interact with the speaker.”
Speakers range in specialty from historians and zoologists to nationally renowned Holocaust educators.
“We just hope participants will get some raised awareness and consciousness about what is going on in their own community, and some inspiration on how each individual can make a difference,” Fisher says.
Domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking are issues that Fisher says have, in all likelihood, impacted someone we all know. But they’re also topics, she says, that can be “intimidating” and “a little bit scary” for some people.
Sunday Salons, however, are a way for individuals to join together to make a difference in an unintimidating environment.
“It’s a simple, fun, engaging and nonthreatening way to make a real difference for survivors in our community,” Fisher says. “And people can get involved in any way they’d like.”

Do Good:

• Check out the Sunday Salon schedule, and call 513-236-2010 to reserve a spot. 

• Check out Women Helping Women's volunteer opportunities, and sign up to get involved.

• Support Women Helping Women by donating.

By Brittany York
Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a project manager for Charitable Words. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 


Strategies to End Homelessness seeks winter shelter funds

During the coldest months of the year, like this one, the need for emergency shelters increases, as does the need for funding.
“We do this on as much of a shoestring budget as we possibly can,” says Kevin Finn, president and CEO of Strategies to End Homelessness—an organization that coordinates services for homeless individuals throughout Cincinnati and Hamilton County.
Prior to 2011, finding consistent shelter throughout the winter months was not a possibility. 
“Back then, the Cincinnati Recreation Commission would open its Over-the-Rhine facility, but only if the temperature was predicted to go below 10 degrees,” Finn says. “But you can freeze to death when it’s over 10 degrees, and homeless people don’t have a thermometer, nor do they have access to a TV weather forecast.”
Increased winter shelter is now available for those who have nowhere else to go from mid-December until the end of February, so long as funding is in place.
This year, there was enough funding to increase capacity by adding 60 beds in a portion of the Drop Inn Center, in addition to 40 beds at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, but Finn says additional funding is always needed.
“The problem is that in March, it can still be pretty cold,” Finn says. “And any funding we don’t use this winter, we would carry over to next winter. What we already saw this year was the worse case scenario—we had four inches of snow and bitter cold temperatures—but because we didn’t have sufficient money in hand, we couldn’t open the shelter December 1.”

Do Good: 

• Help fund the Winter Shelter by making a donation.

• Volunteer with some of Strategies to End Homelessness' partner agencies to help fight homelessness.

• Connect with Strategies to End Homelessness on Facebook.

By Brittany York
Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a project manager for Charitable Words. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

Giving Store supports Mercy Health's patient care

The Mercy Health Foundation offers donors a meaningful way of helping fund the organization’s efforts to provide care to those in need through its Giving Store.
“It’s been in place over two years, and it was a way for us to help people who want to contribute visualize what their donations would be going to,” says Nanette Bentley, director of public relations for Mercy Health.
For Mercy Health, which is a nonprofit health system that does not turn any individual away—regardless of one’s ability to pay—donations are always needed.
For a $10 purchase at the online Giving Store, individuals can send “patient cheer,” for example, in the form of a get-well card to someone who perhaps doesn’t receive many visitors.
There are also options to help fund things like prescription medicine gift cards and even art supplies for Mercy’s DaySTAE (Success through Arts and Environment) program, which is designed to help individuals with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia find improved ways to communicate.
“It helps to really improve the quality-of-life dimension, and it helps their family members as well—in that they see a change in their loved ones being more engaged,” Bentley says.
By providing various options to donors, Bentley says she hopes individuals will be more inclined to support Mercy’s efforts.
“If someone has a budget, for example, they might search by what their money could get them in that regard,” Bentley says. “Or people will do it perhaps in honor of a loved one—someone might want to support oncology, given the concerns of their loved ones, for example—so it’s highly personal.”

Do Good: 

• Support Mercy Health by contributing at the Giving Store

• Contact Nanette Bentley if you'd like to volunteer by playing piano for patients, for example, at one of Mercy's facilities. 

• Like Mercy Health on Facebook.

By Brittany York
Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a project manager for Charitable Words. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

Tom+Chee backs small nonprofits

Tom + Chee knows what it’s like to be the underdog.
What was once a food tent at Fountain Square is now a nationally recognized brand under contract to be a more-than-100-store operation in 2014 (see Tom+Chee prepares for rapid growth in 2014). And it’s this rise-from-the-top mentality that Tom + Chee co-founders Jenny Rachford and Jenn Quackenbush say they apply to the company’s involvement in the nonprofit sector as well.
“Of course we’d love to give to everyone doing good work,” Rachford says. “There are a lot of people trying to do good things, but the small groups don’t have a lot of the support the big ones can pull.”
So Tom + Chee created The Grilled Cheese That Cares program this past October when it partnered with The Kentucky Thorough-Breasts—a team of breast cancer survivors and dragon boat racers affiliated with Paddling for Cancer Awareness.
“We developed a campaign which involved the Pink Dragon Fire Donut, which was a glazed donut with cherry mascarpone, graham cracker and jalapeno compote, and donated a dollar from each to their cause,” Rachford says.
Continuing with the trend of supporting small, local nonprofits, T+C  is now collecting gifts for children connected with Autism 4 Families and Puzzling Panthers, in exchange for a free grilled cheese donut.
So for a total of seven families and 27 children, the financial strain of purchasing gifts from each child’s wish list will be removed, as presents will be provided through the Grilled Cheese That Cares initiative.
“Christmas time is special—especially for kids,” Rachford says. “We all have our childhood memories of Christmases, good or bad, but as grownups and even with our business—we’re kid-centered, family-centered and focused, and this is something that genuinely comes from that place. We want to make families happy.” 

Do Good:

• Contact Jenny Rachford or Jenn Quackenbush if you're a local nonprofit who would like to partner up for future Grilled Cheese that Cares efforts.

• Visit a Tom + Chee location, pick up a gift tag with a child's name and request on it, and return the unwrapped item by Dec. 20 for a free grilled cheese donut.  

• Support local nonprofits.

By Brittany York
Brittany York is a professor of English composition at both the University of Cincinnati and Xavier University. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

Fifth Third helps fund SU2C's collaborative cancer research efforts

Although Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) is a national organization, its focus is aimed at collaboration—an effort that Cincinnati-headquartered Fifth Third Bank wants to get behind.
In 2008, nine women, all of whom were profoundly touched by cancer, came together to form SU2C. Two of the founders were in Stage IV of the illness, and they wanted to know why they were receiving the same treatments used 40 years ago.
“So we got some of the best researchers and oncologists in a room and asked them the question, ‘Why haven’t we made more progress? What are the obstacles?’” says Sue Schwartz, SU2C co-founder. “And we learned some interesting things. The scientists weren’t collaborating. They’re working in silos—different scientists on different floors and in different rooms, doing the same thing and not sharing data.”
So SU2C came up with a model to bring researchers, scientist and oncologists together to form “dream teams” so that collaboration would become the focus of cancer research.
“We’re looking to bring everyone in cancer research together to fund this disease,” Schwartz says. “We have over 500 scientists working in 101 institutions that span the country, so we have institutions involved with us virtually everywhere; and by doing that, it allows us to do our clinical trials in multiple sites across the country, which helps people all over."
SU2C solely funds research, so through initiatives like Fifth Third’s Take a Swipe at Cancer, in which a donation is made to the organization each time a client uses their Fifth Third MasterCard,—which in this case is $400,000—the nonprofit is able to sustain its efforts of delivering therapy to patients in clinical research trials.
“One in two men, and one in three women in this country will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime,” Schwartz says. “And there’s no boundaries—anybody can be struck.”

Do Good:

• Use your Fifth Third MasterCard through December 31, and your purchase will help support Stand Up To Cancer's efforts with a donation of $400,000. 

Support Stand Up To Cancer through this holiday season by throwing an ugly sweater party or participating in its sweater-a-thon contest.

• Join the collaborative effort by getting involved with Stand Up To Cancer's grassroots efforts in Greater Cincinnati, and download the SU2C app. 

By Brittany York
Brittany York is a professor of English composition at both the University of Cincinnati and Xavier University. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 


OMA inspires confidence, provides autonomy to individuals with dementia

Opening Minds through Art does more than provide individuals with dementia a creative outlet for expression. It enables them to build confidence by recognizing their abilities, while also building relationships and engaging with volunteers. 

OMA, which is a therapy-based program developed by the Scripps Gerontology Center at Miami University, aims to build “bridges across age and cognitive barriers through art” by pairing students with elderly individuals. 

Twice a week, students facilitate work on art projects with about 35 residents of Cedar Village Retirement Community—all of whom are either dealing with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. 

“It’s been so amazing to see how stark of a contrast it is when they’re doing creative versus noncreative activity,” says Julia Fallon, University of Cincinnati senior and OMA volunteer.

Fallon, who also conducts research with OMA founder Elizabeth Lokon, says enabling individuals to tap into their creative sides prompts responses that might not otherwise come about. “Especially with art and music, there might be memories associated with those things or emotions that might not be elicited by anything else,” she says.

For Miami University senior Josie Rader, who is an OMA student leader and facilitator, autonomy is one of the biggest takeaways of the program. 

“Personal choice is just so big—even choosing the paint they want to use—it’s all chosen by them, so just having that freedom and creating something that they don’t believe they can create is amazing,” Rader says. “Sometimes they get a little concerned and say things like, ‘Oh I’m not an artist,’ or ‘I can’t do this,’ but at the end, they see a masterpiece that they never imagined they could do.” 

Do Good:

• Support OMA by donating.

• View residents' artwork, which is on display at Cedar Village in the hallway behind the activity center. The latest project involved the creation of tiles as part of a collaborative effort with Rookwood Pottery.

• Like OMA's Facebook page.

By Brittany York
Brittany York is a professor of English composition at both the University of Cincinnati and Xavier University. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

Graeter's helps neighbors in need in local community

Graeter’s raised more than $52,000 for The Cure Starts Now Foundation during its annual Cones for the Cure campaign this fall, when stores gave away free scoops of Elena’s Blueberry Pie ice cream—a flavor that was created out of the ice cream parlor's and nonprofit’s collaborative fundraising efforts.
Chip Graeter, who co-owns Graeter’s, says the partnership started when he wanted to return a favor to Keith Desserich, founder of The Cure Starts Now.
“We were helping a family—a neighbor of ours whose dad was stricken with cancer,” Graeter says. “And Desserich’s business did carpet cleaning and things of the sort, but the house needed work done on it, and he was nice enough to donate some of the work to help this family.”
The two men met prior to the creation of The Cure Starts Now, but Graeter says he told Desserich that if he could ever help him with anything, to let him know.
“Unfortunately in 2006, his daughter [Elena] was diagnosed with brain cancer, and she died less than a year later,” Graeter says. “Hence a foundation was born.”
Desserich contacted Graeter to ask for help with The Cure Starts Now Foundation’s gala and auction, for which Graeter donated a behind-the-scenes experience where an auction winner could create a new flavor of ice cream—Elena’s Blueberry Pie.
Since the initial auction, Graeter’s has continued to raise awareness through its ice cream and coupon books that are given out during each year’s campaign, for which this year’s donations were higher than ever.
“It’s a really great local family that unfortunately experienced a tragedy, and it’s a local organization—but it reaches worldwide,” Graeter says. “Their main goal is to find a cure for [pediatric] brain cancer, which then will open up the doors to finding cures for many cancers, and I’m hopeful that they get to accomplish it.”

Do Good: 

• Support The Cure Starts Now Foundation by donating.

• Reach out to The Cure Starts Now Foundation for support.

• Like Cones for the Cure on Facebook.

By Brittany York
Brittany York is a professor of English composition at both the University of Cincinnati and Xavier University. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 


Celebrate community, gratitude at ninth annual Fall Feast

Six thousand meals will be served this Thanksgiving as the community joins together at this year’s Fall Feast to celebrate Cincinnati and the individuals who call the city home.
“Anyone can come to this event—we’ve built it on the idea of incorporating all walks of life at one table to share a meal,” says Erin Klotzbach, Fall Feast coordinator. “I wanted this to be an event where there were no demographics—there were no visual signs of ‘I’m from an upper echelon, you’re from the lower monetary demographic,’—I just wanted it to be more of an experience where you’d go to an event.”
Klotzbach got involved with Give Back Cincinnati five years ago when she attended Fall Feast and was a member of the planning committee. After one year of involvement, Klotzbach adopted the role of chairperson, and she’s served in that capacity for four years now, while working to transform the gathering into what it is today.
“The first year I chaired the event, we asked City Gospel Mission to join as a partner, and along with that came a few extra things they would do at their Thanksgiving dinner—coats and haircuts—because it was something they offered their guests,” Klotzbach says. “So we built that into our dinner, and it kind of evolved from a dinner to a dinner and resource day.”
The Duke Energy Convention Center will serve as the venue for the 3,500 guests who come to dine together, while 2,500 meals will be served to-go at various locations throughout the city. In addition to food, free haircuts and a coat giveaway, the event will also include free health screenings, pediatric and dental checkups, a children’s play area, live music and a big-screen television for community members to enjoy the national staples of Thanksgiving Day: parades and football.
“What makes Cincinnati great is its community—it’s a very giving culture—there’s lots of different resources for people in need,” Klotzbach says. “And it’s really an opportunity for different people to sit down at a table and interact with people they might not necessarily interact with. It’s bridging the gap in a situation where it might normally be uncomfortable, or you might not know how to engage that way, but because you’re sitting at the same table and you don’t see those lines, it’s very clear that we’re all there for each other.”

Do Good:

• Make Fall Feast part of your family's Thanksgiving Day tradition by attending the event. Meals are served between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Doors open at 9 a.m.

• Donate new or gently used coats and other winter accessories to be given away at Fall Feast. 

• Like Give Back Cincinnati and City Gospel Mission on Facebook.

By Brittany York
Brittany York is a professor of English composition at both the University of Cincinnati and Xavier University. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 


SparkRecipes gives back, fights hunger with recipe contest

SparkPeople wants you to be inspired to live a healthier and happier life, and with the re-launch of its SparkRecipes website, you can do just that while finding nearly 600,000 quick, tasty and nutritious options to incorporate into your meal preparing routine.
To celebrate health and fitness site’s re-launch and to give back to its community of members, as well as the communities in which its members reside, the company is hosting the $10,000 Split-the-Pot Recipe Contest.
The aim is to find the best slow cooker recipe in the country, while also providing assistance to individuals who are facing issues of food insecurity.
“Slow cooking is a style that’s very popular with our members—it’s usually pretty vegetable heavy, it’s healthy, it’s easy,” says Joe Robb, SparkPeople’s digital marketing manager. “But we also wanted to make this a contest with a social component. So we came up with a split-the-pot idea where the grand prize is $10,000 dollars split down the middle—half to the winner and the other half to the soup kitchen or charity of their choice.”
According to Robb, it’s important for SparkPeople to give back because it’s the site’s community of members that makes SparkPeople “America’s largest diet and healthy living website.”
“We believe the reason our site does so well is not just because we have tools to measure exercise and goals, but a big portion is the community aspect,” Robb says. “It’s a reflection of what we see in our daily lives—if someone is having trouble getting those last few pounds, they get positive motivation to get them to their goal—and in Cincinnati and all across the world, they’re part of a community. So this is a way to help out our online community while also taking half that prize money to help out their local community.” 

Do Good: 

• Vote for your favorite recipe daily, and if you come across a local member's recipe, vote to support a close-to-home nonprofit. 

• Browse SparkRecipes to find healthy eating options.

• Volunteer and support nonprofits in your local community. 

By Brittany York
Brittany York is a professor of English composition at both the University of Cincinnati and Xavier University. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 


Girls on the Run inspires physical, social, emotional confidence

When Girls on the Run Cincinnati launched nearly a decade ago, the organization served about 12 girls. But this spring, when it celebrates its 10-year anniversary, the nonprofit will reach its 10,000th girl.
GOTR Cincinnati offers a semester-long program to girls in third through eighth grade that provides a running-based curriculum that inspires confidence, healthy living and happiness with an end goal for participants to complete their first 5k.
“If you’re ever there to see them cross the finish line, the expression on their face—you can’t put that into words,” says Jo Craven, GOTR Cincinnati’s new Executive Director. “It gives them the sense that, if I can do this—set this goal and train and meet this goal—I can do anything, because for them—8- or 9-year olds—to run 3.1 miles, it seems like probably quite a daunting task when they first start training, and many don’t even understand the concept of how far that is.”
Craven began her work with GOTR Cincinnati in 2009 as a volunteer coach; and now, as a retired school principal, the nonprofit has become her priority.
“When I first heard about Girls on the Run, my daughter was in fifth grade, and I thought, ‘Wow, that’d be so great—not only for my school and the girls, but also for my daughter,” Craven says. “So I became a volunteer—a head coach—and started a team in our school last spring.”
Although running is a central component to the curriculum, Craven says it’s “the whole social, emotional, self-confidence piece” that’s incredibly powerful for the girls.
After spending 31 years in Northern Kentucky school systems, Craven says she had the advantage of watching girls grow up, and she saw first-hand the ways the program positively influenced the girls who took part.
“We had a little girl who was very shy and who lacked confidence in and out of the classroom; so in fifth grade, she participated, and it made just a huge difference in the way she carried herself,” Craven says. “She’d walk down the hall and have her hair over her face, not make eye contact with anyone—she didn’t really participate in class—but we saw quite a transformation in her socially and academically. And if you talk to coaches and parents across the country, you’d hear that same story over and over again. It really impacts the whole girl—socially, emotionally, and physically.” 

Do Good:

• Register to participate in GOTR Cincinnati's Fall 5k to support the organization's scholarship fund. 

• Register your girl for an upcoming session of Girls on the Run. 

• Support the organization by volunteering.

By Brittany York
Brittany York is a professor of English composition at both the University of Cincinnati and Xavier University. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia.

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