Mason City project shows power of building partnerships
If it takes a village to raise a child, then it makes sense that an entire community has a role in raising a healthy child.
5-2-1-0 Healthy Choices Count! can be implemented in a variety of different settings, including health care, education and early care. But the biggest impact is made when those various sectors — plus businesses, organizations, non-profits and others — work together to make the healthy choice the easy choice.
A recent project to bring life-size board games to Mason City is an example of this type of community collaboration. Mason City is one of ten communities that are receiving grant funding from the Iowa Department of Public Health to implement 5-2-1-0 Healthy Choices Count! strategies and projects.
How the project came to be
Visit Mason City, the tourism office for the area, had seen giant board games in another Iowa community and wanted to introduce the attraction to Mason City's current programming and public spaces.
Matt O’Brien, funding administrator and regional planner for the North Iowa Council of Government, said the connection between the games and 5-2-1-0 was clear.
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"These board games will be used at out-of-school programs and community-wide events to reduce screen time while increasing social interaction among families and children," said O'Brien.
After the connection was made, the giant board games — including two Connect Four sets, two Jenga sets, one checkers and one chess set — were purchased using the 5-2-1-0 grant and matching funds from Visit Mason City.
Who were the partners
It wasn't just one person or a single funding source that helped bring the giant board games to Mason City — it required building and leveraging partnerships between multiple community stakeholders who all share the same goal of making Mason City a happier and healthier place to live.
"Reach out to those who are already reaching out," O'Brien said. "If community members hear the 5-2-1-0 message from several different organizations and angles, it will sink in."
5-2-1-0: In schools | In the workplace | In communities
Here's who got involved with the project:
Visit Mason City
Visit Mason City approached various community organizations with grant dollars and the idea to purchase giant board games. Mason City was able to match these funds with part of their 5-2-1-0 grant.
The city's HEALTHY-Mason City coalition has long worked with Healthy Hometown, powered by Wellmark, to make changes to promote health and wellness in their community. This year the coalition began incorporating the Healthy Choices Count! message into their visioning process and agreed that the board games aligned with the goals of both 5-2-1-0 and Healthy Hometown.
Mason City Jaycees
The Mason City Jaycees volunteered to "unveil" the board games at their booth during the Giving Your Best Family Fair, an annual event in Mason City, on March 16. The young professionals organization also handed out 5-2-1-0 parent guides and bookmarks to encourage reading over screen-time.
O'Brien, who is also a past president of the local Jaycees, said the target audience for 5-2-1-0 — young families with children — aligns with their membership base. "We're not just doing it for the community, but doing it for ourselves and our own families."
Other 5-2-1-0 projects
Mason City is also funding other projects with their 5-2-1-0 grant, including:
- In partnership with Hy-Vee, Cerro Gordo Department of Public Health, and the North Iowa Community Action Organization, children in Mason City schools will be receiving healthy snack education and receiving a book about the benefits of drinking water.
- Families served by the Community Health Center of Mason City will receive 5-2-1-0 education, healthy food vouchers and recipes. This project is being developed in partnership with the local Hy-Vee, county dietitian and HEALTHY-Mason City.
5-2-1-0 HEALTHY CHOICES COUNT!
Healthy Choices Count! is a health-focused movement for kids that’s under the nationally recognized program, 5-2-1-0. This proven, scientific method helps keep kids healthy by focusing on the importance of good habits. And it all starts by encouraging them to eat and play the right way. Learn more.