By Alyssa Evans
Let’s Move! Blaine, a local organization that helps students in the Blaine school district lead healthy lives, is now part of the Whatcom Family Community Network, a local nonprofit.
Let’s Move! Blaine was founded in 2011 by Dan Persse, who’s led the organization since its genesis. He’s worked in Blaine for over 20 years as a physical education teacher.
Before the partnership with the network, Let’s Move! Blaine was supported by the Blaine Elementary School PTO Boosters. Continuing to sponsor Let’s Move! Blaine could have resulted in the boosters going over their budget, which led to Let’s Move! Blaine searching for a new sponsor.
The network is a good match because their mission to build community together so youth and families thrive relates to what Let’s Move! Blaine is working to do, Persse said. The partnership will broaden the organization’s horizons and provide the organization more opportunities, he said.
The Whatcom Family Community Network’s job is to connect organizations that focus on children and align with the network’s mission. The network helps them find their way and gain strength, said Kristi Slette, the network’s executive director.
“We’ve been a nonprofit for 27 years and we’ve worked with a lot of nonprofits,” Slette said. “We can support them by sharing our wisdom in a way that no connection before could have supported them. They become part of something bigger with a lot more access to information, resources and love from others who care about the same thing.”
In early July, Persse learned that the current presidential administration opted to discontinue the program. However, the decision didn’t result in Let’s Move! Blaine being shut down because the search for a new fiscal sponsor began before the cancellation of over 400 Let’s Move! programs.
Let’s Move! Blaine will now be able to reevaluate their program goals and make decisions on what they’d like to do without following the national Let’s Move initiative requirements.
Let’s Move! Blaine would like to engage with kids in the community, work and establish partnerships, and find resources to help the community eat healthier and be more active, Persse said.
“My underlying philosophy is that it takes a healthy village to raise a healthy child,” Persse said. “We need to stay focused on how our community can provide more resources to help our community be more physically active to promote more nutritious purchasing and lifestyle habits.”
Let’s Move! Blaine is working on a hydration project with the middle school to establish water bottle filling stations. The organization is also working on establishing a walking trail at Bay Horizon Park. Other desired projects include establishing a walking loop in Semiahmoo and partnering with the school district to establish a walking school bus, Persse said.
“A lot of people are still after six years like, ‘Let’s move what? What’s Let’s Move! Blaine?’ It just shows that we still have to get out there and do more. I don’t think we could ever do enough,” Persse said.
The network will support Let’s Move! Blaine as one of its programs. As a result, Let’s Move! Blaine will have more access to grant money. People will be able to make tax-deductible donations to the program, which wasn’t a possibility before, Slette said. The network will also provide support with grant writing, networking and helping Let’s Move! Blaine become its own nonprofit.
“Our goal is never to bring someone on and have them stay with us forever,” Slette said. “The goal would be to bring them into our family and network, then help them grow into independence so they are able to be strong and sustainable, keep serving children and families, and build resilience with their mission.”
Rather than holding events, Let’s Move! Blaine hopes to become more of a facilitator of partnerships. As a facilitator, Let’s Move! Blaine would bring together resources, come up with ideas and then implement them through established partnerships, Persse said.
Let’s Move! Blaine meets on the last Monday of the month at the Blaine-Birch Bay Park and Recreation District 2 activity center. More information on Let’s Move! Blaine and how to get involved is available at letsmoveblaine.net.