These awards celebrated the healthiest schools, organizations and individuals in Iowa.The Healthy Iowa Awards are presented by the Academy for a Healthy Iowa - a collaboration between the Iowa Department of Public Health, Governor's Council on Physical Fitness and Nutrition and Wellness Council of Iowa. Award winners are selected based on providing access to wellness, programming, financial commitment, measurability and sustainability. Winners retain the Healthy Iowa designation for three years at which point they must reapply.
2012 Award Recipients
2011 Award Recipients
The Washington County Board of Health is receiving the Excellence in Physical Activity Award for their diligent work to improve the physical activity environment in Washington County through policy and environmental change. The county is currently working to implement their community health plan through two task forces: the SAFE Solutions for Washington County Youth task force and the Obesity Prevention Task Force. The Obesity Prevention Task Force has been diligently working to improve the walkability of their community. This included working with three communities to implement the Iowans Walking and Logistics Kit (I-WALK). This process enabled communities to establish a local coalition to address issues surrounding children's ability to walk and bike to school. The first community to complete the I-WALK process, Kalona, utilized the information in their successful application for a Department of Transportation Safe Routes to School grant to improve the physical infrastructure of their community. The community also adopted elements of a Complete Streets policy to ensure pedestrian and bicycle issues are routinely addressed. In addition, the momentum from the Kalona project has been used to identify two additional communities that will address walkability this spring, Washington and Wellman. All of these projects are important components to implementing the Iowans Fit for Life plan, because they increase the number of healthy eating and physical activity opportunities by fostering supportive policies and environments.
The Dallas County Board of Health is receiving the Excellence in Nutrition Award for their diligent work to improve the nutrition environment in Dallas County through policy and environmental change. The county is currently working to provide more healthy vending options to county employees. Dallas County utilized the Nutrition Environment Measures Survey - Vending (NEMS- V) to assess vending machines located in county buildings. This included six vending machines including four beverage and two snack machines. The assessment showed that there were no yellow "healthier" or green "healthy" snack foods according the NEMS-V criteria. These buildings serve as the base for all county employees (~300 employees). In December of 2011, the board of supervisors passed a resolution stating that food and beverages sold in vending machines on Dallas County property will offer a minimum of 30% healthier choices as determined by NEMS-V. These projects are important components to implementing the Iowans Fit for Life plan, because they increase the number of healthy eating and physical activity opportunities by fostering supportive policies and environments.
The Cerro Gordo County Board of Health received the Excellence in Physical Activity Award for their work in worksite wellness programming, related policies, and environmental changes. Among their achievements, a worksite wellness program has been implemented for all county employees. It offers physical activity and nutrition programming, ergonomic assessments, health screenings and fitness testing. In addition, a room at the health department has been outfitted with exercise equipment for employee use.
Amy Liechti, worksite wellness specialist with Iowans Fit for Life highlighted some of the program's successes. "In just two short years, the Cerro Gordo County Health Department has shown itself to be a leader in the area of worksite wellness in Northern Iowa. With nearly 70 percent of county employees taking part, program coordinators are now seeing the dividend on this investment. Sixty-one percent of participants reported improvements in their nutrition habits and nearly 50 percent reported engaging in at least 30 minutes of physical activity on at least three days per week. This is encouraging and bodes well for the worksite wellness program, the Cerro Gordo County employees, and the community in general."
The addition of an onsite fitness room has been further enhanced by a supportive policy that allows employees more options to make use of the equipment, which ultimately can lead to happier, healthier employees. Furthermore, the health department has also implemented a flextime policy that allows employees the option of combining their break times with their lunch period to allow them to incorporate some physical activity into their daily routine. "Most importantly, they're sharing their lessons learned and smart practices with other employers in their community" Liechti added.
The Ringgold County Board of Health received the Excellence in Nutrition Award for improving the nutrition environment in Ringgold County schools. Focusing on policy development and environmental change, the board has worked with two school districts to increase the availability of healthier foods and beverages while restricting the availability of less healthy foods. Policies introduced by the board include serving only skim milk in school cafeterias, eliminating candy sales and requiring a minimum number of healthy options at sporting event concession stands, making it easier for students to take advantage of healthy breakfast options, and preventing the use of candy as an incentive for student performance.
"Ringgold County has not only changed their nutrition environment, they've also improved their financial picture," said Sarah Taylor Watts, physical activity coordinator with Iowans Fit for Life. "Skim milk has five fewer grams of fat per carton, but it also costs less. In addition, cafeteria and concession stand sales have increased dramatically now that students have more freedom at breakfast and healthier options during sporting events. In Mt. Ayr Community School alone, concession stand sales went up almost $6,000 last year."
School districts in Ringgold County are also increasing the amount of time available during the school day for physical activity. This includes daily physical activity promotion and nutrition education e-mail messages to school staff, students, and parents. The board has also helped implement a policy at a local high school to offer physical activity as an option during set periods of each school day.
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