Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Faribault, Martin & Watonwan Counties Kick-Off SHIP 3!

Local wellness efforts receives boost from Statewide Health Improvement Program grant

SHIP works to build a foundation of good health for all Minnesotans.

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) announced Monday that it has awarded $545,607 in Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP) funds for two years to Human Services of Faribault and  Martin Counties in collaboration with Watonwan County Human Services (Faribault, Martin and Watonwan Counties SHIP). These funds will support community wide efforts to improve health though increasing the availability of active living, healthy eating and tobacco-free environments.

"SHIP is the most successful program I have been involved with that brings the community together. This has truly been a success for Watonwan County," says John Baerg, former Watonwan County Commissioner and current SHIP Community Leadership Team Member.
Launched in 2008 as part of Minnesota’s bipartisan health reform effort, SHIP works to help Minnesotans live longer, healthier lives while building healthy, vital communities.  SHIP encourages healthy eating, active living and avoiding commercial tobacco by working with school, communities, workplaces, and healthcare to make healthy choices easier. Statewide, the 2013 legislature supported SHIP with $35 million for fiscal year 2014 and 2015, and now SHIP funding will be available statewide once again. When SHIP began four years ago, it was statewide with $47 million over two years; however, in 2012 and 2013 SHIP received a 70 percent cut and the 15 million allocated only covered about half the state, which included Faribault, Martin & Watonwan Counties.

“We’ve been fortunate to have continued SHIP funding since the program began,” says Faribault, Martin and Watonwan Counties SHIP Coordinator Chera Sevcik, “We are excited to have this opportunity to take our ideas and work to the next level.”

Faribault, Martin and Watonwan Counties SHIP will be able to begin new projects across the region, while continuing its existing community health improvement work, such as:  

·         Working with the Active Living Coalitions in Blue Earth, Wells, Butterfield, St. James, and Madelia to implement policies and practices that create active communities by increasing opportunities for walking and biking.

·         Partnering with our local school districts to improve healthy eating & physical activity during the school day for both students and staff.

·         Partnering with multi-unit housing managers/owners to adopt and implement smoke-free policies inside apartment complexes.

 “We know from research that to really make a real, long-lasting change in the rates of physical activity, healthy eating and tobacco exposure and use, we need to help communities make it easier for their people to succeed,” says Michelle Larson, Interim Director for the Office of Statewide Health Improvement Initiatives, the home for SHIP at MDH. “That is why working with communities has been a cornerstone of SHIP since its inception.”

Grants were awarded to community health boards across Minnesota, which are made up of one or more counties and cities. Faribault, Martin and Watonwan (FMW) Counties SHIP received both implementation and innovative grant awards, allowing our partners to build on its existing health improvement work. The implementation grants are aimed to work with communities, schools, worksites, healthcare and childcare organizations to improve opportunities for healthy eating, physical activity and reduce use of and exposure to tobacco. In addition to the implementation grant work, FMW SHIP also received two innovative grant awards. The first will be to develop a multifaceted, coordinated approach to improve the health of our senior citizens in Martin County. The project includes increasing access to healthy foods, specifically fruits and vegetables for seniors, increasing access to walking and biking and other evidence-based programs aimed to help senior citizens live longer, healthier lives in their communities.  The second project is to work with the community of Madelia to implement a sugary-beverage reduction campaign, similar to what has been done in other communities around the country. This includes implementing policies and practices to reduce consumption of sugary beverages, which have been directly linked to the obesity epidemic.

“We are thrilled to continue our work we started four years ago. SHIP has meant a lot to our community, and we know we have only just begun,” said Sevcik.

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