WeTHRIVE! community projects promote social connections

WeTHRIVE! communities are finding ways to combat the public health crisis of loneliness, isolation, and lack of connection. This past summer, communities used grant funds for park- and recreation-related projects that will bring residents together in a variety of ways.

Here’s a look at what some of our WeTHRIVE! communities have been working on.

Amberley Village

This past summer, Amberley used grant funding to line two more tennis courts for pickleball, bringing the total up to four. Amberley’s WeTHRIVE! Health & Wellness team hosted free pickleball games on Tuesday nights. In case of bad weather, they had a special agreement with the Jewish Community Center to move play inside.

Group of 10 adults, men and women, standing on pickleball court.
A summer WeTHRIVE! pickleball night in Amberley Village.

St. Bernard

The city of St. Bernard used grant funds to purchase a portable stage and a new sound system. Chris Sauer, assistant recreation director for community events in St. Bernard, says the new stage makes it possible for the village to offer more concerts and events that will bring residents of all ages together. Their old stage required about four people to set up and tear down. The new one can be assembled quickly and was used quite a bit this past summer.

Teenagers singing and playing guitar and drums on an outdoor stage.
The first concert held on St. Bernard’s new portable stage.

The new professional sound system replaces what the Aquatic Center has been using for the past 20 years and extends it into the Pavilion, a covered area where concerts and community events are held.

Chris says both of these projects complement the Pavilion renovation that was recently completed by the village. This includes a new basketball court, new pickleball courts, and Aquatic Center improvements.

Elmwood Place

Playground structure surrounded by patches of grass and dirt.

These before and after photos show what a difference new mulch makes for the Elmwood Place playground. Sheila Dornbusch, office manager for the village, says the old mulch had been down for a long time and was overgrown with grass.

Men putting blue mulch down around playground structure.

The new mulch is a recycled rubber material, which is safer and more hygienic for children playing there. Volunteers helped put it down in late June. Sheila says the village hopes to replace two benches at the playground in the future, making the playground even more inviting for kids and their caregivers.

North Bend

North Bend’s Presidential Community Park has a long-standing tie to WeTHRIVE! that you can read about here. When the village had some recent grant funding, they used it to further improve the park.

The improvements included replacing old wooden trash cans that were falling apart, according to Marilyn Kramer, deputy clerk for the village. For the space next to the park where there was a basketball court, former council member Max Morgan worked with Cincinnati Sportscapes to plan something new.

The basketball half-court was upgraded with a new rubber interlock surface, brightly painted with WeTHRIVE! colors and the WeTHRIVE! logo. In addition, they added a new pickleball court, hopscotch, and four-square game, all with the same unique surfacing.

Basketball hoop with half court.

These new and upgraded features have the potential to bring out more residents of all ages to play and socialize. Mayor Doug Sammons and Councilmember Mark Weadick were also involved in this project.

North College Hill

North College Hill used grant funds to purchase ten new bike racks, according to Anneliese Clear, the city’s recreation director. They’ll be installed at various locations in the city, including parks, the municipal building, and in the business district.

Anneliese is excited about new software that was also purchased with a grant. CivicRec works with the city’s existing website and makes it possible for people to do things like reserve athletic fields and register for festivals and activities online.

Older kitchen area with wooden cabinets and no appliances.

Another big summer project was refurbishing the kitchen at the Senior Center. When the city acquired the center, which was previously run by a nonprofit, the kitchen was outdated and all the equipment had been removed.

Small kitchen with stainless steel sink, table, refrigerators, and microwaves.

With grant funds, “we were able to get rid of the old cabinets and food preparation surfaces and install all new stainless steel that can be sanitized,” Anneliese says. “We have a new refrigerator, ice machine, and microwave ovens.”

Older residents gather at the Senior Center twice a week, so having a functioning kitchen supports their activities. The city can also use the space for programs, classes, and community events.

Stay tuned for more posts about how WeTHRIVE! communities are building resiliency and increasing social connections for their residents. Subscribe to our stories by entering your email address below!