mason city

5-2-1-0 WINS!

By Lauren Kollauf on Monday, November 11, 2019

5-2-1-0 rallies community around wellness in Mason City

Mason City is a economic and cultural hub of northern Iowa and home to nearly 28,000 people. The seat of Cerro Cordo County is also a two-time Healthy Hometown Powered by Wellmark Community Award winner and a leader in implementing 5-2-1-0 Healthy Choices Count! community-wide initiatives.

Mason City first received funding from the Iowa Department of Public Health to support 5-2-1-0 Healthy Choices Count! projects in FY19 but had been working with experts to improve health and wellness in their community since 2012. Mason City received another IDPH grant to continue the work in FY20, along with 14 other communities across the state.

mason city win

"Mason City is unique in that it has a lot of major community players involved in wellness efforts," said Matt O'Brien, regional planner for the North Iowa Council of Government.

Visit Mason City, Main Street Mason City, Mason City Chamber of Commerce, HEALTHY-Mason City coalition, MercyOne and Cerro Gordo Public Health are just some of the partners who have collaborated on 5-2-1-0 initiatives, including a giant board game project to increase use of public spaces and involving high school students in walk audits around the community.

MORE 5-2-1-0 SUCCESS: Manning | Clinton | Mount Ayr | Keosauqua

Here are some other notable 5-2-1-0 projects Mason City has accomplished: 

'Frame Mason City' promotes parks

Visit Mason City, the local visitors and convention bureau, approached O'Brien with an opportunity to partner on their "Frame Mason City" campaign which involves installing large frames in photo-friendly locations within the town's parks and along the trail system. 

"We want people to get out and experience physical activity," said O'Brien. "This project helps put a focus back on our parks and trails while also reducing screen time and bringing families together."


The town currently has two frames with the hopes of installing a total of 10. Each frame will be identified on a printed trail map and promoted as an active living opportunity for Mason City citizens and visitors alike. The city plans to promote the "Frame Mason City" project in conjunction with Travel Iowa's 99 Parks campaign, which encourages families to get outdoors. 

Sensory hallways to  'get the wiggles out'


Every elementary school, including public and private, in Mason City  were able to get sensory hallways in their buildings, thanks to 5-2-1-0 funding and another grant. The project has been popular with students and staff.

"It gets the wiggles out," said Megan Studer, communications and enrollment coordinator at Newman Catholic Schools. "(The hallway) helps kids be active and move throughout the day. It all adds up to getting one hour of physical activity."

The sensory hallways include decals that are placed on the floor offering instructions for kids, including jumping, counting and other movements. Students can use the pathway on their way to recess, lunch or when a student needs a break from the classroom. 

Partnering with dental health educators

5-2-1-0 partnered with I-Smile program, the North Iowa Community Action Organization and Hy-Vee dietitians to provide education on oral health, water consumption and healthy food choices to several child care providers in Mason City.

RELATED: Meet the communities that received 5-2-1-0 grants

Each student received a copy of the book "Potter the Otter" which explains the importance of drinking water and a toothbrush. They also received education on what foods are healthy for your teeth (water, fruit) and which are not (sugary drinks, candy). 

"5-2-1-0 gives health providers a friendly way to tackle childhood obesity," said Matt O'Brien. " It gave the community a new specific message and guideline to promote healthy choices."


What's next for Mason City? 

Mason City wants to continue spreading the 5-2-1-0 message by using free communication resources, like the 5-2-1-0 posters and brochures and the 5-A-Day Fruit & Veggie Bands. But they're also eyeing additional projects, most of which include more collaborations with community partners:

  • Solar lighting on a popular trail segment on the east side of town and near North Iowa Area Community College
  • Install a bicycle repair station and bench on the Newman Catholic Schools campus near the Trolley Trail
  • Work with the Chamber of Commerce's high school leadership club (YIELD) to plant edible landscapes in town

"Before 5-2-1-0, it was just a small coalition working on wellness in Mason City," O'Brien said. "5-2-1-0 has brought a lot of new people into the mix and involved."

Learn more about 5-2-1-0 Healthy Choices Count! 

logo5-2-1-0 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.