Striving for a healthier Minneota
It’s a movement to inspire more movement! In July 2016, the Minneota City Council decided to promote healthy living by creating an Active Living Plan for the community.
The city council worked with Shannon Gossen, with the Southwest Regional Development Commission, to design a community plan.
A new project of the coalition’s is installing a bench kiosk along the bike trail with information about the trail and local events.
The kiosk will be located north of the pool and constructed by Matt Buysse’s shop class. . The coalition hopes the kiosk will be installed before the first frost this fall.
“Last spring when we all got together, I asked, ‘what do we want to do?” said Gossen. The group established a coalition vision: create an environment that promotes health and wellness throughout the community.
They decided to focus on programming, partnering with the Economic Development Authority (Minneota EDA) and the Fit-24 Fitness Center. The coalition also wanted to highlight the existing walking and biking trail.
The first few months were spent assessing the resources that Minneota already had and figuring out how to utilize them to their full potential.
The walking and biking path stood out as a valuable asset for community health. “The plan was laid out with various goals and strategies for the community,” said Gossen.
A plan was formed and the Minneota Active Living Plan became a 38-page document outlining ways to help the community become a healthier place. With a plan in place, it was time to make healthy happen.
The coalition convened to make goals and begin healthy living projects. The coalition created a trail guide brochure that shows trail routes and mileages.
Coalition member Stephanie Vlaminck explained that before the brochure was circulated, walkers and bikers were not always sure how to continue through town after the trail pavement stopped near Hope Lutheran Church.
The brochure shows a pedestrian-friendly path through town that reconnects with the trail near the public school. Vlaminck contributed a lot of time to the creation of the brochures, which also include information about local businesses and the benefits of healthy living.
The brochures can be found at local businesses including Gislason’s Hardware and the city offices.
“It’s good to see the trails getting used, and we’re doing everything we can to make it as safe as possible,” said Cari Pohlen, owner of Fit-24 and member of the Active Living Coalition.
City Administrator Shirley Teigland was influential in getting a crosswalk installed near Hope Lutheran Church to make it a safer crossing for pedestrians using the trail.
The coalition’s achievements highlighting the walking and biking trail as well as the opening of Pohlen’s fitness center in September are celebrated as steps toward a healthier Minneota.
The Active Living Coalition has numerous long term visions, such as paving Golf Course Road with a biking/walking shoulder and creating a safe walking to school program, in addition to plans for the summer.
This summer, Austin Thompson has been conducting a bike safety awareness program during his internship with Police Chief Bill Bolt.
SHIP, a grant that funds Gossen’s work with this community’s health, is also providing 15 bike helmets and 50 walking/biking reflective safety lights. Stephanie Vlaminck and Abby Thostenson are coordinating Minneota’s National Night Out event. Minneota partook in this national celebration last year, and will expand the new tradition this year with even more activities and health and safety demonstrations.
“It’s really just a full community event trying to incorporate as many people as possible,” explained Vlaminck as she spoke about National Night Out.
The celebration will be on August 7, the first Tuesday of August. The coalition is also considering public interest and feasibility of offering yoga classes this summer.
The coalition has big plans to help the community of Minneota be more active and healthy. They hope that their projects this summer and in the future will have a positive impact on Minneotans’ lifestyles.
“We just want to make it easier for people to be healthy,” is how Gossen sums it up. The coalition will keep trying to improve the health of the community.
As Vlaminck says, their goal is to “put more years in the life ... and then put more life in those years.”