Aetna Awards YMCA $50,000 toward Community Gardens

YMCA of Northwest North Carolina Now Home to Gardens at Seven Branches

Winston-Salem, NC – The YMCA of Northwest North Carolina announced today that the Aetna Foundation has awarded $50,000 in funds to the community gardens at the Fulton and Kernersville Family YMCAs.

The grant will fund the construction of the community gardens to increase access to fresh produce, as well as educate children and their families on nutrition, healthy eating and gardening. The garden program also provides a fun and affordable physical activity with free swim lessons for program participants ages K-7th grade students who attend the afterschool and summer day camp programs.

The gardens will include more than 30 garden beds serving more than 500 children at both branches. Participants will be able to take plants home in pots and soil to learn more about the growing process. During the harvest, the fresh produce will be provided to low income families. Master Gardeners from the Forsyth Cooperative Extension will provide additional gardening education and overall guidance for the students throughout the year. Swim lessons are included as part of the program to encourage a well-rounded healthy lifestyle with physical activity.

“We are grateful for this grant that will allow students to benefit from hands-on and classroom activities that focus on the health and nutritional aspects of gardening, and the science behind gardening,” said Curt Hazelbaker, President and Chief Executive Officer of the YMCA of Northwest North Carolina. “Families will also benefit from the garden’s harvest, as students will be able to take home fresh-picked produce on a weekly to biweekly basis. At the end of each year, we anticipate that the students will understand the significance behind gardening.”

The YMCA of Northwest North Carolina is now home to community gardens at the Robinhood, Jerry Long, Stokes, Statesville, Winston Lake, Fulton and Kernersville Family YMCAs.

YMCA of Northwest North Carolina

The YMCA is one of the nation’s leading nonprofits strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. The YMCA of Northwest North Carolina engages more than 150,000 men, women and children annually – regardless of age, income or background – to nurture the potential of children and teens, improve the community’s health and well-being and provide opportunities to give back and support neighbors. Anchored in communities across seven counties, the Y has the long-standing relationships and physical presence not just to promise, but to deliver, lasting personal and social change. Learn more at