NEW ULM - If someone gave you the resources and tools to improve the health of you and your neighbors, how would you respond?
That's the question Allina Health asked people living in Minnesota and western Wisconsin when it launched its new Neighborhood Health Connection, an innovative program that provides free health screenings and financial support for grass-roots healthy activities.
"We thought our citizens would be interested in health improvement, and we were prepared to support 30 neighborhoods in this endeavor. What we didn't expect was such an overwhelming interest in organizing these healthy initiatives with more than 400 interested neighborhoods. The creativity and passion around improving health was encouraging, and gives me great hope for a healthier future for our nation," said Kenneth H. Paulus, President & CEO of Allina Health.
Through a competitive application process, Allina Health selected more than 250 community-designed activities throughout Minnesota and western Wisconsin to receive support.
In the region that is served by New Ulm Medical Center, the following are some of the activities that were awarded grants:
Two community screenings one in Winthrop and one in Lafayette
A six-week pedometer challenge that will encompass approximately 206 residents
Five neighborhoods received community grants of $250 each
Seven organizations received community grants
The total amount awarded through all of the neighborhood and organizational grants in this region is $18,750. An anticipated 2,500 people will be impacted through all these grants, pedometer challenges and screenings.
Examples of how the neighborhood and organization grants are planned to be used are: instructor-led fitness in the park in Comfrey; New Ulm Area Day of Play Saturday, Sept. 29, sponsored and hosted by Martin Luther College; worksite wellness programming at businesses; run/walk events (one in Winthrop and one in New Ulm); and community activities such as dancing, polka dancing and buckthorn removal.
Groups selected to participate were notified in mid-June. Supported activities are expected to take place throughout the summer. Neighborhood Health Connection offers a free online tool kit to help neighborhoods develop healthy activities. It is available at neighborhoodhealthconnection.org.