LIMA — After a year of disruption led many to be less active, faith-based organizations are focusing on wellness to reconnect and keep their members healthy.
Eight of those Allen County churches and faith groups on Tuesday were selected for the latest round of Activated Faith Challenge funding, which offers financial support, technical assistance and other resources to faith-based organizations that pilot spiritual, physical and mental wellbeing programs.
“We wanted to do something with our church that was outside, that was active because of COVID and the shutdowns here,” said Sheila Smith, director of administration with Zion Lutheran Church in Lima, which is participating in the Activated Church Challenge for the first time.
The church is organizing a Walking to Bethlehem challenge for its members, who will collectively try to walk the distance it would take to travel from Lima to Bethlehem this fall.
LifeWise Academy, a voluntary religious instructional program that will soon be available for Elida elementary students, was also selected for the Activated Faith Challenge as the academy prepares to open its doors this fall.
Students will walk to the LifeWise classes at the Sunnydale House, located 300 yards from the elementary school — an opportunity to build more exercise into the school day. But the school will also engage students “in matters of the heart,” said Joe Wassink, vice president of advancement for WTLW TV-44, which is renovating the Sunnydale House for LifeWise Academy.
The grant program is a partnership between Activate Allen County and West Central Ohio Health Ministries, which includes Lima Memorial Health System, Mercy Health and Allen County Public Health.
Grants will support similar wellness initiatives through the Community Action Program, Van Wert Presbyterian Church, Zion Lutheran Church, Cable Road Alliance Church, the Lima YMCA, St. Marys Christian Preschool and Union Chapel Missionary Church.
For the Lima YMCA, that means taking summer day campers to Camp Wilson for a more traditional camping experience, as well as other excursions and activities so students can socialize again after an isolating year.
“We wanted to show them what an actual camp looks like,” said Asiah Stewart, camp director for the Lima YMCA.