Inaugural Brooksie Way Minigrants total $7,725 for 9 Oakland County projects

Nine Oakland County projects – which range from helping fund a therapeutic horseback riding program for special needs children and a summer camp to helping create a vegetable garden for senior citizens – are among the first to receiving funding through the Brooksie Way Minigrant program.

The awards were handed out Thursday by Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson during a program at the Royal Park Hotel in Rochester. News Talk Radio 760 WJR and the Paul W. Smith Show broadcasted live from the event.

“The Brooksie Way Minigrant program allows us to put money back into our communities to improve the overall health and wellness of our residents and contributes to the general quality of life in Oakland County,” Patterson said. “We’re off to a successful start.”

The Brooksie Way is an annual half marathon and 5K race named in honor of Brooks Stuart Patterson, a young father and son of the county executive, who died after an accident in 2007. The 2010 race, which is partnership between Oakland County and the Crim Fitness Foundation, is set for Oct. 3 and begins and ends at Oakland University.

Patterson created the Brooksie Way Minigrant program to use race proceeds to promote healthy, active lifestyles for Oakland County residents. Thursday’s recipients were chosen by a grant review panel from among 19 applicants. Minigrants are awarded three times a year. The maximum award is $2,000. Grant guidelines and applications are available on the Brooksie Way website,, and are reviewed three times a year – April 1, August 1 and December 1.

Support from HealthPlus of Michigan helps make the minigrant program possible.

“HealthPlus is proud to be the presenting sponsor of the Brooksie Way Half Marathon, among other Oakland County health and wellness initiatives,” said Bruce Hill, president and CEO, HealthPlus of Michigan. “Our corporate vision is ‘A Healthier Community,’ and we’re committed to that philosophy in everything we do for our more than 200,000 members, 700 employer groups and 400 employees across Michigan. We’re pleased that our sponsorship helps make the Brooksie Way mini-grants possible for additional worthwhile health and wellness initiatives in Oakland County.”

Awards were given to the following organizations:

Village Basketball Camp, Pontiac: The Village Basketball Camp is held at Pontiac High School from July 19 through 23. The camp is open to boys and girls in grades 3-9. Founded in 1994, the camp mission is to have a long-term, positive impact on the physical and social needs of Pontiac children.

Awarded: $500
The minigrant will fund 10 camp scholarships.

Children’s Village Foundation, Pontiac: Children’s Village provides a unique approach to treatment of youth that fall under the authority of Oakland County Family Court or with the Michigan Department of Human Services. Its mission is to provide the best possible services within existing resources to children and youth who come under the jurisdiction of the court and are deemed to be temporarily in need of out-of-home care, custody and treatment.

Awarded: $1,500
The minigrant will fund the installation of a 9-hole disc golf course on the grounds of Children’s Village.

Headwater Trails Inc., Holly: Headwaters Trails Inc. is a non-profit group dedicated to the construction of a trail network in northwest Oakland County’s Headwaters region. It is currently in the planning stages of trail development. The trails span several municipalities, including the townships of Groveland, Holly, Rose and Springfield, and the Holly. Headwaters Trails Inc. operates with the support of a variety of public, private and business sources interested in promoting local trails and recreational activities.

Awarded: $700
The minigrant will fund 20 canoe/kayak rentals for the Adventure Paddle for Kids event on July 13. Headwater Trails, Inc. seeks to expand the paddling experience on a local river to teenagers, and demonstrate this activity as a means of maintaining physical fitness.

Presbyterian Villages of Michigan Foundation, Southfield: Since 1945, Presbyterian Villages of Michigan (PVM) has been a leader in quality senior living and services. PVM serves more than 3,000 seniors of all faiths and economic means in 24 villages throughout Michigan. Its mission is to provide new possibilities in quality senior living. All of the communities offer social activities and wellness programs geared towards the physical, spiritual and educational needs of seniors.

Awarded: $1,000
The minigrant will fund “Living Green and Healthy in Holly,” a new vegetable gardening program at the Village of Holly Woodlands. The project includes a community garden, planters for individual apartments and cooking demonstrations.
The goal of “Living Green and Healthy in Holly” is to encourage physical exercise and promote lifelong healthy eating habits.

City of Wixom: Known as the “Best Hometown in the Midwest,” Wixom is characterized by its balanced approach to land use development, and mixing the best of county living with a strong industrial base. For outdoor enthusiasts Wixom boasts two sprawling golf courses and seven community parks, which offer a variety of year-round recreational activities. The Wixom Habitat features 300-acres of pristine parkland that is being developed as a passive park with boardwalks, a nature center and walking paths.

Awarded: $500
The minigrant will fund the “Bike & Hike,” a day-long event on July 24 at the Wixom Habitat. Residents ride their bikes or take a walk on the city’s park trails. Participants can extend their outdoor experience by attending the Lyon Oaks County Park “Great Wixom Campout.”

Holly Area Schools – Patterson Elementary’s LECI Classroom, Holly: Patterson Elementary, in partnership with the Holly community, provides educational excellence for all learners. The Lower Elementary Cognitively Impaired Classroom (LECI) is a space where all children, regardless of their disability, can come and find success based on their individual needs and goals. Children in this setting work in various group and individual settings on academic, social, communicative, life skills and fine/gross motor skills at their level.

Awarded: $1,175
The minigrant will fund “Hugs for Horses,” a five-week therapeutic horseback riding program for 12 students in kindergarten through third grade. The riding program integrates multiple disciplines – fine and gross motor, balance, laterally, posture, sensory, speech and language, cognitive, social and emotional skills.

City of Farmington Hills Senior Adult Division: Farmington Hills offers dozens of programs for area adults, age 50 and older, at the Center for Active Adults.

Awarded: $600
The minigrant will fund the purchase of swimming pool equipment to be used for the “Getting Strong Now” program, which introduces older adults to methods to increase vitality, independence and good health. The focus is on improving muscle strength and flexibility to maintain the ability to perform everyday functions while increasing awareness on proper nutrition and fitness.

Oakland County Youth Assistance Coordinating Council, Inc.: Oakland County Youth Assistance began in Hazel Park in 1953 and now encompasses 26 local affiliates. Its mission is to strengthen youth and families and reduce the incidence of delinquency, neglect and abuse through community involvement.

Awarded: $1,000
The minigrant will fund the program “Project Fit,” a four-part series. It is for mentors and mentees, ages 10 and older, from the Oakland County Youth Assistance Mentors Plus Program, Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Jewish Family Services Mentor Programs, all of Oakland County. It is designed to address issues of physical health, exercise and healthy eating.

Charter Township of Royal Oak Parks & Recreation Department: The Charter Township of Royal Oak Parks & Recreation Department has been in existence for over 40 years. Its mission is to provide quality recreation programming to the youth, young adults and seniors who reside in Royal Oak Township and southern Oakland County.

Awarded: $750
The Brooksie Way Minigrant will fund an enhancement for the Royal Oak Township Summer Camp for Kids – Operation I Can Do! Approximately 150 children, ages 5-12, will benefit. Oakland County Parks and Recreation is partnering with Royal Oak Township to incorporate physical activity and nutrition into the four-week camp program.

The Brooksie Way joins Count Your Steps (CYS), another successful health program founded by Patterson. Count Your Steps encourages elementary children and families to engage in more physical exercise through a pedometer walking challenge. CYS/Brooksie Way is organized to develop and implement one or more programs to educate school age children and their parents on the importance of a healthy diet and exercise and to foster and promote programs to encourage public health and fitness.