Mount Ayr takes 5-2-1-0 in stride with community pride
Mount Ayr is proud of the many opportunities they offer to be active in their community, including a trail system, wayfinding signage and playground and pool at Judge Lewis Park.
So when the town of 1,700 people, located in Ringgold County, learned in 2018 they would be receiving grant funding from the Iowa Department of Public Health to support the 5-2-1-0 Healthy Choices Count! campaign, they were ready to "hit the ground running."
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"Mount Ayr is a close knit community of individuals who are forward thinking and really just want the most improvements possible in their town," said Joel Lamb, a regional planner with Southern Iowa Council of Governments (SICOG).
Mount Ayr features a downtown square and several historic buildings and homes throughout town.
Lamb said that many sectors in Mount Ayr were working together to improve the health of their community, including Ringgold County Public Health, Mount Ayr Hospital, the Mount Ayr Community School District and the Ringgold County Child Care/Family Resource Center.
"They already collaborate so well," said Lamb. "This funding gave them the platform to accomplish projects they had envisioned for the community."
FREE RESOURCES: Learn more about 5-2-1-0
One year after receiving their first round of funding, here are some of the efforts Mount Ayr was able to accomplish:
Increasing access to healthy food
Funds were used to improve the garden located at the Ringgold County Child Care/Family Resource Center with additional raised beds, added tools, improved water supply and added fruit trees. Students will be involved in the planting, care and harvesting of produce.
"This project gave the kids that attend (Ringgold County Child Care/Family Resource Center), the chance to experience the process of growing fruits and vegetables," said Lamb.
The community garden will provide Mount Ayr with a sustainable, yearly source of fresh produce. The center was also able to purchase a refrigerated display case to store the harvested produce before it is given to families in need.
Creating more opportunities for play
The Ringgold County Child Care/Family Resource Center was also the recipient of funds to convert their existing playground into a Nature Explore Certified Playground. This natural playscape includes different textures and mediums in the outdoors that are shown to be educational and calming.
"Getting the kids out and moving is one of the biggest priorities for (Ringgold County Child Care/Family Resource Center) – it cuts screen time and encourages physical activity," said Lamb.
Some funds were allocated to the Mount Ayr Community School District to purchase a variety of new equipment for use by physical education classes and sports teams, including medicine balls, badminton nets and a mobile frisbee golf set. Judge Lewis Park also received funds to install a "friendship swing" on their playground.
Continuing to spread the word
Mount Ayr will again receive funds this fiscal year to support 5-2-1-0 Healthy Choices Count! strategies and they've already begun to review their Action Plan and consider new ideas.
"(The partners) are seeing the community support behind the projects they’ve already accomplished and they are excited to be able to take additional steps," Lamb said.
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Lamb said in the upcoming year, he hopes to better utilize the 5-2-1-0 marketing materials to continue to spread the word and keep the community excited.
"People are receptive and its recognizable," Lamb said. "We want to continue to press the messaging to the public, whether they see it at the doctor's office or in the food pantry."
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.