5-2-1-0 grant helps fund major Cherokee trail project
Cherokee has been working hard in recent years on the development of a new park that would not only benefit their town, but serve as a hub for recreational activities for the county.
So when the community learned they would be receiving state 5-2-1-0 Healthy Choices Count! funding through an application completed by CRMC Public Health and community members, Magnetic Park – which will include a trail, pond, historic barn, natural areas and a playscape – was the first priority.
"There was a lot of positive energy from the community," said Alejandra Quintana, planner with the Siouxland Interstate Metropolitan Planning Council. "They had the (paved) trail on their wish list for a while so they were very excited to get funds."
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Cherokee, located in northwest Iowa and home to about 5,000 people, received $30,000 from the Iowa Department of Public Health in FY20 which they used on amenities for Magnetic Park plus other physical activity and nutrition education projects within their community.
Here are the projects that were funded in Cherokee with 5-2-1-0 funds:
Supporting Magnetic Park development
The future site of Magnetic Park is located on the east side of town. In 2017, the City of Cherokee acquired 50 acres of land which presented the opportunity to expand and connect the community's existing trail system.
"We want to have an actual system, not just another trail segment," said Jason Cook, volunteer on the Cherokee Trails Committee. "In recent years there's been a real effort to connect what we have and make a loop around the city."
Cook credited the community for helping to fund this large project through a variety of grants, donations and fundraisers. Development on the nearly one-mile paved trail inside the park is set to begin in Fall 2020 and when it is complete, there will be nine miles of continuous trails in Cherokee.
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Nearly half of the 5-2-1-0 funds were allocated to purchase amenities for the park, including some natural playscape equipment such as an embankment slide and rope spiderweb, bicycle racks and picnic tables, which otherwise would have been delayed while developers focused on completing fundraising for the trail segment.
Community-wide 'Fit Kids' program
The Wellness Center, located at the Cherokee Regional Medical Center (CRMC), had originally planned to host a summer Fit Kids program for families in need of physical activity and nutrition education. However, in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the program was opened to all children in the community.
"Due to COVID-19, kids have been pretty stationary and probably not making healthy food choices while at home," said Judy Stowater, CRMC Public Health Supervisor. "If we can get them started at a younger age eating healthier and being more active – that’s one of our main goals."
During the weeklong program, participants played games and received kits that they could take home to continue being active at home. They were also provided with healthy snacks, listened to speakers on healthy eating and took home cookbooks focused on eating healthy on a budget.
Projects delayed due to COVID-19
The coronavirus pandemic did cause delays to two other projects the community of Cherokee had planned to implement this spring and summer:
The Cherokee County Healthy Families public health program partnered with Head Start, Early Head Start and WIC families to raise awareness of healthy eating on a budget by providing healthy cookbooks, water bottles and vouchers to be spent on fruits and vegetables at the local farmers market. Cherokee hopes to distribute the vouchers later this summer.
The Cherokee Community School District and Hy-Vee partnered to develop raised garden beds between their two buildings. Produce harvested from the garden would be used in nutrition education at the school and donated to the local food pantry. High school students were constructing the beds before COVID-19 closed schools. They plan to return to the project next spring.
Learn more about 5-2-1-0 Healthy Choices Count!
5-2-1-0 Healthy Choices Count! is a health-focused movement for kids that’s under the nationally recognized program, 5-2-1-0. It all starts by encouraging them to eat and play the right way.
This proven, scientific method helps keep kids healthy by focusing on the importance of four habits:
- 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables
- 2 hours or less of screen time (television, computer, video games, phones, etc.)
- 1 hour or more of physical activity
- 0 (or reduce) sugar-sweetened beverages - drink more water!
To learn more about how you can get your community, workplace, school, health care clinic or child care site involved in 5-2-1-0, click here.