Rotary Clubs around the world have a mission to bring together community leaders to create positive, lasting change for the communities they serve, and beyond.
For the Keene’s Elm City Rotary Club, a Healthy Monadnock Organizational Champion, their “positive, lasting change” mission is to support youth well-being through collaborating with other area organizations.
This local Rotarian club, now in its 26th year, was recently recognized for its efforts by the New Hampshire Governor’s Council on Physical Activity and was awarded an “Outstanding Achievement Award.” The award recognizes organizations, groups and individuals in New Hampshire that have accomplished outstanding achievements in promoting healthy lifestyles through physical activity and fitness services and programs.
Rudy Fedrizzi, Elm City Rotary president, says that ultimate goal for the group is to reach every child in Cheshire County through the Club’s network of nonprofits and other organizations.
Some of the Club’s activities related to wellness include the annual Kids DeMar Program for area elementary students, the Super Seniors DeMar Program for people over the age of 70, the “Follow ME!” Sneaker Project that this year provided 875 second graders in Cheshire County with a new pair of sneakers, and the Dictionary Project that gives hundreds of third graders their own dictionary each year.
Over the years, the Club has distributed hundreds of nutrition and physical activity-related books to nonprofit organizations and individual children through its “Run and Read” program. It also sponsors the Monadnock Regional High School Interact Club and supports international service such as building homes in Central America with high school Interactors (Junior Rotarians) and helps to fund and distribute wheelchairs to disabled people in Jamaica. The Club has also donated more than $250,000 over the past 25 years in grants to organizations, educational scholarships and through projects supporting youth.
A new initiative this year brings together organizations that are addressing childhood hunger and has created a new coalition called MUCH (Monadnock Region Understands Childhood Hunger).
The Elm City Rotary’s alignment with many nonprofit organizations and initiatives in the Monadnock Region, including Healthy Monadnock, is critical to the Club’s success in its mission to create a culture of health for area children and their families, adds Fedrizzi.
And the efforts of the Rotary Club — and other initiatives in the Region — seems to be making a difference. Childhood BMI (unhealthy weight) has fallen in Cheshire County: From 32 percent in 2009 to 25 percent in 2014 — a seven percent decrease. While other factors may be at play for the drop, the Elm City Rotary Club and its partner organizations’ programs are helping to sustain this momentum.
Emily Hartshorne, Fuller Elementary principal, who wrote on behalf of the Elm City Rotary Club for its recent award said: “Schools are expected to do so much for children, despite limited time and dwindling resources. It is wonderful to know that organizations like the Keene Elm City Rotary Club are willing to support schools and expand the wellness and activity opportunities available to our kids. Every teacher knows that healthier students are better able to learn and experience higher scholastic achievement and social well-being.”
If your service organization would like help incorporating health into your mission or just making the environment healthier for your members, contact the Organizational Champions program.