WATERVILLE — Healthy Northern Kennebec, a nonprofit group aimed at identifying and working to solve local health problems, is one of 24 organizations nationwide to receive funding from a new community health program.

The Waterville-based group is expected to receive up to $68,000 over the next 20 months, according to a press release.

“We’re absolutely delighted, and we’re really looking forward to sharing this with the community,” said Fran Mullin, director of Healthy Northern Kennebec in an interview.

The grant is from a new initiative called Spreading Community Accelerators through Learning and Evaluation, or SCALE. The program is run by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

It is the first community-based initiative to come out of a larger project called 100 Million Healthier Lives that is being led by the institute and 140 partner organizations. Its goal is to get 100 million people living healthier lives by 2020, according to the release.

Mullin said the funding, which the organization is scheduled to begin receiving May 1, will be used to “build a culture of health.”

“We’ve done a number of focus groups, and people have told us there are a number of things they need to be healthier,” she said. “One of those things is access to healthier food. There are a lot of people in Waterville who are hungry.”

Getting more healthy food into food banks and meal programs is one of the goals of the group, as is finding more ways to make biking and walking safer and more accessible modes of transportation around the area.

“We’re looking at developing a proposal called Complete Streets that the city of Waterville is already working on, and we’re looking forward to having our streets more accessible to everyone, whether you’re walking or biking,” Mullin said.

The group is also planning to work with Inland Hospital on its Let’s Go! program, which strives to provide more opportunities for activities for families in the area.

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

[email protected]

Twitter: @rachel_ohm


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