Getting your entire community on board with a wellness initiative can be difficult at times; one county in particular found a way to overcome that obstacle. Washington County’s wellness coalition has been in existence for a few years; it began after a Community Health Needs Assessment in an effort to increase the health of their youth.
While the coalition’s efforts were aimed towards increasing the health of their youth; last year the coalition decided to work towards increasing their involvement and success with Live Healthy Iowa and Live Healthy Iowa Kids.
“While all of the districts/schools who participate in Live Healthy Iowa Kids work very hard to ensure their wellness efforts are successful, there are a handful of districts who just nail it!” said Lisa Weber, Live Healthy Iowa Coordinator. “Two of those districts just happen to be in Washington County. It just so happens that their county also has a very active wellness coalition and that is no coincidence!”
The coalition worked very hard to make sure their efforts were not only successful in the school-setting, but also at home! One example would include their involvement of the local media, grocery stores and schools; they connected with a local grocery store in efforts of highlighting a fruit/vegetable each week, then connected with a local radio station to announce a fun fact about the fruit/vegetable on special that week and talked with the schools to also share the fact and include it on the lunch menu for the week! This is only one example or what their coalition worked on and a great example of what happens when you put a group full of people to work on a common cause!
Tips from Lynn Fisher, Washington County Public Health Nurse, on starting a community wellness coalition:
- Designate a core group: Have more than one person “in-charge;” this will help keep your project on track and as one person gets tied up with work-demands, there is another person who is able to step in and keep the project moving forward!
- Set meeting dates: Have meeting dates planned in advance and placed on the calendar. You might need to schedule different types of meetings such as planning meetings for core members and update meetings for the entire coalition.
- Get the right people at the table: Involve the population (or someone who knows the population well) that you are trying to effect. For example, when working with kids and the school; it might be best to have a representative or two from the school to fully understand what works best in their setting.
- Leadership support: Involve the key leaders from the population you are trying to effect. For example, when working with kids and the school; you will want to talk with administrators and principals to get them on board.
Mid-Prairie CSD also won Live Healthy Iowa’s K-12 Cup Challenge! This was the first year for the challenge and the winner would be the district with the highest percentage of students and staff participating and completing in the 10 Week Wellness Challenge. The district had 92% of their students and staff participating in the challenge and 66% completing the challenge.