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BHC awards $7,800 for community projects in Merced County

Building Healthy Communities this week awarded $7,800 to eight organizations that promise to make positive changes in the community.

BHC awards up to $1,000 to grass-roots groups and individuals who present an idea for a project or event that will improve youth leadership, encourage community involvement or offer opportunities for participants to gain skills. Some of the projects are funded with help from First 5 Merced County.

According to BHC administrative coordinator Isai Palma, potential projects and programs can include but are not limited to health-related activities, educational trips and cultural arts projects.

One of this cycle’s award recipients was the IMPACT program at Le Grand High School. According to BHC, the project will engage 14 boys and girls who are interested in becoming certified soccer referees with the purpose of finding part-time jobs. The $1,000 in funding will cover the cost of hiring an instructor and will pay for the certification of students.

Another $1,000 grant was awarded to the Merced Symphony Association to go toward the rental of the Merced Theatre. The project’s goal is to conduct field trips for 2,000 fourth-graders who will attend one of two MSA children’s concerts at no cost for students and their families.

Among the other grantees, the Mariposa Art Company will bring free art workshops to Merced County; Bikes for the Community will provide free bike rentals to Planada residents; and the UC Merced Violence Prevention Program will host a block party on Valentine’s Day.

The Cerebral Palsy Association of Merced County received funding to conduct an arts program that would focus on addressing therapy goals and activities for children with physical impairments. According to the grant, the goal of the program is to increase the self-esteem of these children.

An $800 grant was also awarded to the Positive Choices Day project at Sequoia High School. The event, which took place last week, was a one-day conference that included a panel of mixed martial arts fighters who spoke to students about overcoming obstacles and achieving success.

BHC Community Grants are awarded twice a year in two cycles: summer and winter. In the past, BHC has also awarded grants for community youth sports tournaments, youth music lessons, community gardens and résumé-building workshops.

Sun-Star staff writer Ana B. Ibarra can be reached at (209) 385-2486 or aibarra@mercedsunstar.com.

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