BELLOWS FALLS >> The Bellows Falls Middle School was recently awarded a three-year, $87,000 grant from the Fanny Holt Ames and Edna Louise Holt Fund to expand health and wellness activities for its after-school program.

The A.I.M. Afterschool Program (Achieve, Inspire, Motivate) was established in 2008 with the support of a federal 21st Century Community Learning Center grant; the program is structured and designed around the needs of the BFMS student population and is driven by two important principles: (1) to provide students with opportunities for growth and self-discovery and (2) harvest a lifelong passion for learning. Students are able to participate in a supporting environment that encourages individuality, learning, creativity and self-respect.

The Holt Foundation Grant will support after-school and summer programming with an intentional focus on health and wellness by promoting: healthier nutrition choices, gardening, physical movement, female empowerment programs, peer mentoring, community volunteering, collaborative student/parent learning opportunities, and outdoor summer activities. Afterschool Director Orianna Baez said, "For many of our students, A.I.M. is more than just a place after school -- it is an important entity that plays a large role in their daily lives. This new initiative will allow us to provide high quality opportunities that nourish their bodies and mind."


The program will be collaborating with Food Connects, the Women's Freedom Center, and Windham Northeast Supervisory Union's Student Advocate & Family Liaison to achieve its intended goals. The Holt Fund was created through the generosity of Fanny Holt Ames and Edna Louise Holt. Both Miss Holt and her sister were longtime residents of Grafton, Vermont. In 1983, an automobile accident claimed the life of Fanny Holt Ames and seriously injured Edna Louise Holt. Following a series of hospitalizations, Miss Holt successfully recovered from her injuries. The experience had a profound effect on her view of medical care. She felt fortunate to have been able to afford the care she received and expressed a desire to help others access the same health and medical care opportunities. To date, the Holt Fund has invested over $10 million in programs to improve community health outcomes. Holt Fund recipients are meeting the health and medical needs of the community through a variety of innovative programs.