Winston-Salem State University’s School of Health Sciences has received a $269,000 grant from the United Way of Forsyth County that will help to integrate community resources and agencies to improve the health of underserved residents in eastern Winston-Salem. The three-year grant will create a program titled Project REACHE, or Rams Employment and Community Health Equity. Project REACHE will focus in four key areas:

  • Decreasing fall risk and frailty of underserved older adults through community screenings and referrals.
  • Improving the mobility of residents with neurological conditions by providing free occupational therapy and physical therapy evaluations and, if needed, referrals to providers and home exercise programs.
  • Supporting aging in place for older residents by providing home-safety screenings, home renovations and modifications, and education.
  • Providing job skills and employment opportunities for youth with disabilities by training them to provide home-safety screenings and modifications.

“Our goal for Project REACHE is to create a sustainable program that can be replicated across Winston-Salem that will help improve the quality of life of underserved residents,” said Dr. Peggy Valentine, dean of health sciences and principal investigator for Project REACHE. “We also will provide invaluable hands-on training for our students in physical therapy, occupational therapy and rehabilitation counseling, helping them hone their cultural competence skills, so they will be prepared to care for diverse patient populations.”

Valentine said the program will expand on many community outreach programs that WSSU faculty and students have offered successfully for several years, including free occupational therapy and physical therapy clinics at the Community Care Center and the RAMS Know H.O.W. Mobile Unit. It was received under the United Way’s Place Matters program, which aims to strengthen and create lasting change in neighborhoods.

Project REACHE is a partnership between WSSU, the YMCA of Northwest North Carolina, Gateway YWCA, Senior Services of Forsyth County, Habitat for Humanity of Forsyth County, Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools and the Winston-Salem Urban League.

“It’s clear there isn’t one solution,” Dr. Yolanda Edwards, a professor and program coordinator and chairwoman of the WSSU Department of Rehabilitation Counseling. “By partnering with a diverse group of community resources and agencies, we can align our efforts to improve the quality of life for those most vulnerable in our community.”