The Union County Health Department has made several grants available to improve athletic facilities in the area.

The Union County Health Department has made several grants available to improve athletic facilities in the area.

The health department announced on June 22 that its Sports Injury Prevention Program is now offering three athletic facility improvement grants, in the amount of up to $1,500 each.

Sports Injury Prevention Program coordinator Elizabeth Fries said the grants can be used for a wide range of improvements.

"These funds can be used to make improvements that will reduce the risk for injury at Union County athletic facilities serving youth," she said. "For example, funds can be used to repair fences or posts surrounding fields, purchase slide away bases, fix broken concrete on basketball courts, etc."

The grants can be applied for by any Union County school, athletic team, league, coach, parent or organization in the county, according to health department public information officer Jennifer Thrush.

The funds will be used to "make environmental modifications to athletic facilities in order to reduce the potential for youth injury," the grant description states. "The Union County Health Department will select grant recipients based on the merits of their completed proposals and the potential impact on their environmental improvements."

Those applying for the grants must submit a one-page grant proposal to the health department by July 20. Applicants must provide the health department with a description of the problem or need at the specific park they plan to improve, a description of the proposed modifications and the associated costs, and if awarded the grant, must report any injuries occurring to youth in the following year that can be attributed to the environmental modifications.

"This is a great opportunity for leagues, teams and organizations to make their athletic facilities safer for Union County children," Fries said.

She added that the funds must be used for improvements to an athletic facility, and cannot be used for a playground area.

All work proposed in the grant application must be completed by December 2010, according to Thrush. Grant applications are available online at www.uchd.net by entering "sports" into the page's search box, or by calling Fries at 937-642-2053 or via e-mail at Elizabeth.fries@health.co.union.oh.us.

Completed grant applications can be mailed to the Sports Injury Prevention Program, Union County Health Department, 940 London Ave., Suite 1100, Marysville 43040.

lrice@thisweeknews.com