For the past 14 months, incredible work has been conspiring in Faribault, Martin and Watonwan Counties. The Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP) has assessed and is now implementing changes in communities, worksites, schools and health care organizations. The goal of SHIP is to create sustainable changes in health by implementing policy, system and environmental changes which support healthier choices.
Human Services of Faribault and Martin Counties in collaboration with Watonwan County Human Services received funds from the State of Minnesota to decrease tobacco use and obesity. SHIP was part of the health care reform initiative that the Minnesota Legislature passed and Governor Tim Pawlenty signed into law in 2008.
SHIP tackles the top three causes of preventable illness and death in the United States: tobacco use, physical inactivity and poor nutrition. Together these three factors have been estimated to cause 35 percent of all annual deaths in the United States, or around 800,000 deaths each year. These factors also drive up health care costs. SHIP interventions are projected to save an estimated $1.9 billion in Minnesota by 2015.
Faribault, Martin and Watonwan Counties started their SHIP work in July, 2009 with a comprehensive needs assessment to identify SHIP initiatives which were needed and wanted by community members. A tri-county leadership team and county steering committees were convened to provide overall guidance and local support to SHIP. After the assessment was completed and committees were established, six initiatives were chosen. These initiatives include working with schools to implement comprehensive nutrition policies and adopt policies which support physical activity during the school day; working with communities to increase affordability and access to nutritious foods and opportunities to be active; with worksites to implement policies supporting nutrition, physical activity and tobacco cessation; and with health care organizations to implement a system of active referral of patients to community resources for physical activity, nutrition and tobacco cessation.
Implementation began in January, 2010 as SHIP launched a mini-grant process. In April, 17 mini-grants were awarded in Faribault, Martin and Watonwan counties to begin planning and implementing the six SHIP initiatives:
Active Living Blue Earth
· Blue Earth Area Community Education (BEACE) received a SHIP mini-grant to increase opportunities for active living (walking and biking) and to increase opportunities for community recreation.
Wells Community Gardens
· The City of Wells received a SHIP mini-grant to establish and sustain a community garden in Wells, MN.
Voices of Wellness Committee
· The City of Wells received a SHIP mini-grant to initiate a Community Wellness Coalition.
· The committee will focus on implementing active living principals within the City of Wells. This includes trainings to city representatives and other stakeholders to assess the current walkability/bikeability of the community and focusing on working with the school to establish Safe Routes to School Program and to participate in the School Nutrition Project (see below).
· The committee will also work with area worksites to implement comprehensive employee wellness initiatives including increasing physical activity and nutritious foods and implementing tobacco policies and practices.
· The committee will work with area health care providers to implement a system of referral for patients to local resources for healthy foods, physical activity and tobacco cessation.
Human Services of Faribault & Martin Counties Worksite Wellness Project
· Human Services of Faribault & Martin Counties received a SHIP mini-grant to implement a comprehensive worksite wellness initiative which includes implementing policy supports to improve employee access to physical activity, nutritious foods and to limit tobacco use on grounds.
School Nutrition Project
· Blue Earth Area Schools, Martin County West Schools and United South Central School received a SHIP mini-grant to assess the school food environment and implement comprehensive school nutrition policies. The School Nutrition Project is looking at making healthy changes to school meals, foods and beverages available in school vending machines, concession stands and a la cart. Each school will also work to make healthy changes to foods provided at snack time, foods used for fundraising as well as school and classroom celebrations. Evidenced-based programs such as Farm to School, breakfast promotion and school gardens will also be considered.
GHEC/Truman/MCW Community Education Project
· Community Education Programs in Granada/Huntley/East Chain, Truman and Martin County West wrote a collaborative SHIP mini-grant application to assess, catalogue and promote existing recreational opportunities in Martin County and identify gaps and barriers which prevent community members from using existing resources. They will also identify resources wanted and needed by the community and work on implementing those changes.
Safe Routes to Schools – Fairmont
· The Safe Routes to School Committee (SRTS) in conjunction with Fairmont Area School Community Education and Recreation Program in Fairmont wrote a mini-grant to establish the Safe Routes to School Program among all Fairmont K-6 schools. In the fall of 2010, the SRTS program expanded to offer the program daily for the first two weeks of school and twice a week through the end of October. The program will resume in the spring.
Senior Vitality Council
· Fairmont Area Schools Community Education and Recreation Department received a SHIP mini-grant to convene a Senior Vitality Council in Martin County. The Council will work with area community and health care organizations to ensure seniors have opportunities to live healthy, full lives. Topic areas include access to health care referral and evidenced-based programs which support living with chronic conditions and maintaining physical activity. The Senior Vitality Council will also work to ensure communities in Martin County provide opportunities for seniors to obtain physical activity and nutritious foods.
Rotary Club Gardens
· The Rotary Club in Fairmont received SHIP mini-grant to expand the current Rotary Club Gardens from 250 plots to 400 plots. The grant funding will also be used to assist the Rotary Club with establishing a system of organization for plot assignment, food donation and obtaining zoning ordinances for the community garden.
Health Care Referral Project
· St. James Medical Center received a SHIP mini-grant to work with area health care organizations in Faribault, Martin & Watonwan Counties to create a system of referral to community resources available for active living/physical activity, healthy eating/nutrition and tobacco cessation.
Watonwan County Gardens
· University of Minnesota –Nutrition Extension received a SHIP mini-grant to enhance and implement policy, systems and environmental changes with community gardens.
Watonwan County Community Education & Recreation Project
· Watonwan County Community Education and Recreation received a SHIP mini-grant to assess and catalogue recreational opportunities available in Watonwan County and establish policies to ensure community education and recreation programming is promoted and provides health and recreational opportunities each season.
Watonwan County Summer Food Program
· Watonwan County Schools received a SHIP mini-grant to help implement the USDA Summer Food Program and provide opportunities for physical activity for children in Butterfield, Madelia and St. James, MN.
· Madelia Community Hospital/Tony Downs Foods and Human Services of Watonwan County received a SHIP mini-grant to establish a Latino Council in Watonwan County. The Council will work with the Health Care Referral Project, community nutrition interventions, community physical activity interventions and also with worksite health to ensure all policy, systems and environmental changes are implemented in a culturally sensitive manner.
Watonwan County Employees Health Initiative
· Watonwan County received a mini-grant to implement a comprehensive worksite wellness initiative. Watonwan County will assess the current worksite environment to identify policy supports which allow employees access to healthy foods, opportunities for physical activity and tobacco cessation.
Physically Active Kids- Watonwan County
· SHIP is working to implement the SPARK Physical Activity program within Early Childhood Education Programs in Watonwan County.
Northside Elementary Breakfast Promotion Program
· Northside Elementary School received a mini-grant to implement a breakfast promotion program to increase the number of students eating breakfast each morning. The school will establish policy and environmental supports to promote breakfast participation and ensure the school offers healthy snack policies.