2022 Annual Award Winners Projects

posted on Thursday, December 8, 2022

Girls on the Run

2022 Award Winners Share Their Projects

In February, schools, workplaces, individuals, and communities were honored for their continued work to improve the health of Iowans at the 2022 Healthiest State Annual Annual Awards. 

Each winner received a monetary award and, over the past several months, they were able to use their prize funds on projects to continue their efforts to create healthier environments for their students, employees and fellow citizens.

It's time to hear from the 2022 winners to see how they chose to use those funds in their projects across the state!

Early Care

Neverland Child Care (Sioux City)

"Neverland Child Care used the funds to purchase food grade storage containers to store our produce harvested from the garden. Helping us stretch the lifespan of our fruits/vegetables. We also added an arched trellis to allow our tomatoes to hang while growing and forming. Which provided protection from animals and allowed the plants to bear more fruit."

Theodore's Academy Preschool & Childcare (Sioux City)

"Upon looking at all of the amazing ways we could use our prize money, we decided that purchasing something that could be used in many ways would be especially helpful during those long winter months.  We purchased two “Nugget” pieces of furniture.  The nuggets can be used for tumbling, climbing, building, taking a calm down break, reading books, rainy day exercises, and loads more fun.  The children really love using them to create obstacle courses around the classroom.  Being able to get some more large motor movement within the walls of our room, has given our children an alternative way to express themselves while getting active!"

Theodores Academy

Theodore's Academy Students enjoy their new nugget furniture 

K-12 School

Clay Elementary (Altoona)

"We tried to look at how we can improve Clay Elementary for students, staff, and community. We decided to spend our money on scooters for students to use in PE.  We hope this will give the students a new opportunity to practice skills like they never have before.

We also purchased a portable speaker system.  We have already used it during Girls on the Run practices, Kidstrider activities, the first day of school, assemblies, Healthiest State Walk, Field Day, and more!  This sound system is helping us engage our students in a whole new way! 

Lastly, we are working toward getting a Little Free Library and a Little Free Pantry to provide our students with healthy snacks and great literature."

Out-of-School Program

Girls on the Run Central Iowa

"Girls on the Run used their funds to provide transportation for four teams to get to the spring end-of-season 5K. The end-of-season 5K celebration is an essential piece of the Girls on the Run program. This culminating event gives girls a tangible sense of accomplishment and the confidence to be the author of her story. These funds were able to remove a transportation barrier and allow 60 girls to experience this incredible event."

Girls on the Run

Girls on the Run 5K Presented by EMC Insurance Companies, November 13, 2022


Daira Driftmier

Daira Driftmier won the 2022 Healthiest State Individual Award and designated the 2022 Squat Challenge Winner as the recipient of her $1,000 reward. Miss England’s second grade class won the challenge and received gifts for winning the challenge that included healthy snacks, recess equipment for their school, and t-shirts.

Squat Challenge Winners

Winners of the 2022 Hy-Vee KidsFit Squat Challenge; Miss England's second grade class, Shuler Elementary.


Claude W. and Dolly Ahrens Family Foundation (Grinnell)

The Claude W. and Dolly Ahrens Family Foundation used their prize money to install a new beverage cooler filled with water and fresh juices, for staff to grab during work hours. They also purchased a new outdoor grill for their company herb and community garden. Staff can utilize it during work hours and company events, like their end of summer celebration where they grilled veggies from their garden with hamburgers!

Merchants Bonding Company (West Des Moines)

"We are working to design an indoor and outdoor walking path with signs at our office in West Des Moines. Many of our associates enjoy walking around the office and our outdoor space, but they have indicated to us that they wish there was a way to see how far they walked, so we’ve decided to make a path with signs that show the distance they’ve gone at various points in the path. For example, 3 laps around the office path is a mile, etc. Not only will these visuals help motivate associates to care for their physical and mental well-being, but it will also help them track their progress and make it more accessible for everyone to participate in the walking/step challenges we have at the office even if they do not use a smartphone or smart watch when they walk! We also believe that having signs indoors will remind people to walk even in the colder months."

Merchant Bonding Walking Path

Merchants Bonding Company's planned walking path where signs will be created using prize money to guide and encourage employees to get out and walk!

Optimae LifeServices (Des Moines)

Optimae LifeServices plans to use their funds to develop their first wellness event/training for staff to be held in 2023

Health Care

Unity Point Clinic Pediatrics


Healthy HometownSM Powered by Wellmark Community

Each of the winners received $5,000 to continue the efforts in their communities. Read more about their projects:

We want to recognize you in 2023! 

Apply for the 2023 Annual Awards here.