Sharon Dinse first came to the Saginaw area to study nursing at Saginaw Valley State University and became one of its first nursing graduates, completing her bachelor’s degree in 1979.
A Saginaw city resident, Dinse is seeking to improve the health of her community. She serves as a part-time nursing instructor at SVSU, and as a coordinator for Get Outside for a Healthy Inside, a nonprofit organization that became an affiliate of the Saginaw Community Foundation in March. The group seeks to increase physical activity in Saginaw, focusing specifically on building parks and maintaining trails.
“I started getting interested in this when I had a community health clinical with students based on the east side of Saginaw,” Dinse said. “One thing that was striking was when I'd give the students a tour of the city and they'd ask, ‘Where are the parks? Why aren't there kids outside,’ even when it was a beautiful day. We decided that a bunch of us needed to get together and do this for the city.”
The SVSU Student Association selected Dinse’s organization as its charity partner for the 2015 fundraising competition with Grand Valley State University. SVSU students will raise funds for the charity from Sunday, Nov. 8 to Friday, Nov. 13. Since the competition began in 2003, SVSU has raised over $300,000 for various charitable causes.
“We're trying to provide lots of nature and lots of outside opportunities for physical activity,” Dinse said. “Saginaw County is the most obese county in the state. We'd like to see a park in every neighborhood in Saginaw.”
This year’s Battle of the Valleys chair at SVSU is Natalie Schneider, a business management major from Saginaw Township. She said that this year is special because the fundraising campaign can help both the community and a young organization in Get Outside For A Healthy Inside.
“They are definitely a growing organization, which we're really excited to work with because that means we can work a lot with their foundation,” she said.
Adding parks to the city of Saginaw could benefit everyone from young children needing a place to play to adults looking to stay fit.
“We need to start where we feel the greatest need is,” Dinse said, “and for us, that is having some place to go for physical activity. We believe it can change communities.”
With the money raised through the Battle of the Valleys competition, Get Outside For A Healthy Inside will look to build the foundation for the future of the organization. This includes interviewing children to see what they would want in a park, putting together focus groups and then building a park that will be accessible for everyone.
“We're trying to be realistic and we're trying to do basic things to make the city wonderful,” Dinse said. “The neighborhoods and the citizens are important.”
For more information on the Battle of the Valleys fundraising competition, visit www.svsu.edu/bov. You also may donate online from the website.