Mt Pleasant News

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Neighbors Growing Together | Jun 17, 2018

Henry County is ready to get physical

Aug 03, 2017

By Karyn Spory, Mt. Pleasant News


Healthy Henry County Communities is ready to get its citizens up and moving- well, almost.

On Tuesday, Live Healthy Iowa Director Dr. Amy Michelle Willcockson met with members of Healthy Henry County Communities to devise plans to boost the county’s health rankings. Currently, Henry County is ranked 89 out of 99 counties on the Active Iowa Index. The index was created as a strategic health initiative to address the state’s growing obesity problem by Live Healthy Iowa, a program of the Iowa Sports Foundation. Live Healthy Iowa was created to help improve Iowans’ health by designing wellness challenges to promote positive lifestyle change.

“To change the village, it takes a village,” Willcockson told the HHCC members. “We can do this and we’ll do this together.”

The afternoon meeting began by discussing goals the county would like to set for itself. Although specific goals were not set during the August meeting, the members did agree they would like to see Henry County’s overall ranking decrease from #89. The board members also sought to decrease the county’s obesity levels from 35 percent to below 10 percent and decrease the number of inactive citizens. These goals, Willcockson pointed out, also fit in line with the county’s public health department’s mission and goals.

Once the board set specific goals, which Kelly Carr, Healthy Communities Coordinator for Healthy Henry County Communities, said would be done during the board’s September meeting, Willcockson wanted to see how the Live Healthy Iowa’s six wellness challenges could align with programs the county was already focusing on. The six Live Healthy Iowa activities that count toward the Iowa Index are the 10 Week Wellness Challenge, Winter Iowa Games, Live Healthy Iowa 5K, Summer Iowa Games, The Next Step and the Fall Fitness Day/Healthiest State Walk.

“Your county has participated in all six of these challenges that we’ve selected in some way shape or form in the last few years,” said Willcockson of the forementioned events. “Some counties have not participated in them at all.”

Henry County’s participation, however, has had moderate to low participation, with the most participation being the 10 Week Wellness Challenge, 71 participants in 2016, to only three participating in The Next Step.

Willcockson suggested having the county focus on exponentially growing participation in a few of the events instead of all six. “Which challenge makes sense for your county,” she asked.

She suggested having the HHCC Halloween Walk on the same day as the Fall Fitness Day/Healthiest State Walk. “We register families as they come,” said Julie Brown, “we could just register them for the walk as well.”

Carr said she believed all four of the county’s school districts participated in The Next Step challenge last year, but didn’t register the event online with Live Healthy Iowa. “We can start with the schools and educate the public how to register,” she said.

Willcockson also suggested getting local businesses involved by making a countywide competition with the 10 Week Wellness Challenge. She added she is hoping to provide cash prizes next year for counties competing in the challenges.

The competitions are tracked through an online dashboard, which can be found at Registration for the events can also be found on the site.

Healthy Henry County Communities members plan to select goals and competitions to promote during their September meeting.

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