Malvern looks to build on 'a lot with a little' attitude in upcoming year of 5-2-1-0 funding
The community of Malvern is 30 minutes from a major metropolitan area, child care options are scarce and the nearest YMCA is 10 miles away.
Despite these obstacles, the Mills County town of 1,400 has still made wellness strides in recent years — including building new parks, maintaining a city pool and establishing a Summer Fit Club for kids.
"There is a need for education and opportunities around health and wellness in Malvern," said Natalie Lancial, a small business owner in Malvern and member of the town's 5-2-1-0 Coalition.
LEARN MORE ABOUT 5-2-1-0: Get involved, download a toolkit, order free resources
In late 2017, Malvern's efforts to promote healthier lifestyles got a boost from the Iowa Department of Public Health. The town was one of four communities across Iowa who received $18,000 to implement community-wide strategies around the 5-2-1-0 Healthy Choices Count! campaign.
"We knew we could do a lot with a little," said Lancial. "5-2-1-0 was a good fit."
One year after receiving the funding, Malvern is sharing the successes they've had implementing 5-2-1-0 in their community.
Here are some of the 5-2-1-0 wins from Malvern:
A project that promotes water
In order to provide access to healthier beverage options, water bottle filling stations were installed at East Mills Elementary and High Schools. The new fountains were big hit among students.
"My favorite project we did was the water bottle filling stations," Lancial said. "Just the number of kids who are drinking sugary beverages is astounding."
The elementary and high school in Malvern replaced their traditional water fountain (left) with water bottle filling stations.
Community gardens with visual appeal
The community partnered with the Mills County - Iowa State University Extension and Outreach on a community garden project. Large, rolling container gardens were placed along Main Street so they were accessible and visible to all of Malvern's citizens.
Community members could harvest produce from the gardens, which had 5-2-1-0 messaging attached to them. Malvern plans to continue the program next year and is considering an "Adopt-A-Container" program to engage business owners and help with maintenance.
Malvern placed these community gardens on Main Street so they were accessible to the community.
Leveraging existing programs
Lancial wanted to share a piece of advice she received last year: "Look at what’s already available in your community that you can piggy back on to. How can you work with them to incorporate 5-2-1-0 into their project?"
MORE 5-2-1-0 WINS: West Union looks to spread 5-2-1-0 message from kids to community
Malvern used the 5-2-1-0 messaging and education as a theme for their Summer Fit Club and ACES after school program. The 5-2-1-0 Coalition also worked with the city to use an existing community building as an open gym and used grant funds to outfit the center with nets, balls and other equipment.
The 5-2-1-0 Coalition hosted an Open House to introduce Malvern the new community center gym.
What's next for Malvern?
Malvern will receive another round of funding from IDPH in the upcoming fiscal year, in addition to five more towns and one county. Lancial said the 5-2-1-0 Coalition is still deciding how they spend their additional funds.
MORE 5-2-1-0 INFORMATION: Meet the towns where 5-2-1-0 is expanding
They are considering either additional infrastructure changes, like the water bottle filling stations, or more programming opportunities around health and wellness for their community center gym.
Malvern by the numbers:
50 children and families impacted in child care
20 children and families reached in health care
420 children and families reached in schools
500 children and families reached in the community