The Brunswick Wellness Coalition has been awarded another $450,000 grant from The Duke Endowment to help improve health in Brunswick County. The coalition, a diverse group of community organizations working collaboratively, is one of 10 North Carolina coalitions in The Duke Endowment’s initiative, Healthy People, Healthy Carolinas.

The program takes a bold approach to addressing chronic health issues such as unhealthy weight, diabetes and heart disease. Coalitions involve leaders from a wide spectrum of community organizations to develop ways to engage residents in improving their health.

Healthy People, Healthy Carolinas has now expanded to five new counties — Henderson, Pitt, Rowan, Robeson and Brunswick — with plans to expand throughout the Carolinas over the coming years.

Research shows that North Carolina ranks 31st among states when it comes to the overall health of its residents, with two-thirds of residents considered overweight or obese. Healthy People, Healthy Carolinas recognizes that health and well-being are created and sustained not just through individual and clinical efforts, but through the cooperation and support of the extended local community.

Sheila Roberts, chair of the Coalition Executive Committee and Executive Director of New Hope Clinic, noted, “Our local rates of diabetes, heart disease and unhealthy weight are higher than national averages. It’s exciting to have this funding to continue the coalition’s cross-sector efforts to impact these areas of need and make Brunswick County healthier for all.”

“I’m proud of Dosher and our community partners’ accomplishments with the first round of funding,” Dosher Memorial Hospital CEO Tom Siemers said.

Dosher initiated the original grant application from the Endowment along with Brunswick County Health Services, New Hope Clinic and the YMCA of Wilmington and its renewal continues the largest grant initiative ever given to Dosher in its 89-year history.

Healthy People, Healthy Carolinas provides opportunities to bring together leaders from hospitals, health departments and other health-promoting organizations. A crucial first step — and one that is funded by The Duke Endowment’s grant — is to strengthen the infrastructure of the local coalitions that are coordinating the effort, so that they’re well-positioned to identify and implement interventions that work.

“The health challenges facing the Carolinas have been decades in the making,” said Lin Hollowell, Director of Health Care of The Duke Endowment. “They cannot be effectively addressed overnight, though we’re starting to see the roots of progress take hold in the first set of Healthy People, Healthy Carolinas communities. The health challenges also cannot be solved by individuals and organizations working alone. Through Healthy People, Healthy Carolinas, communities can work together to confront their problems and make the most progress in achieving solutions.”

Representatives from the coalitions will participate in a learning collaborative with opportunities to share information with each other as they develop best practices for organizing, planning and implementing evidence-based programs known to improve health.

“The coalitions selected by the Endowment are intentionally diverse and unique,” said Laura Edwards of Population Health Improvement Partners, the North Carolina-based organization that provides expert assistance to each local coalition. “While there will be many opportunities for exchanging ideas, each community will receive support to pave its own path forward. The hope is that eventually the lessons of these coalitions can inform the work of others throughout the Carolinas.”