New effort makes Alexandria area more activeActive Living Douglas County made significant progress over the past year and is looking to even bigger things in 2011, according to its members.
Active Living Douglas County made significant progress over the past year and is looking to even bigger things in 2011, according to its members.
A focus on active living began in late 2008 when Douglas County Public Health received financial and technical support from Blue Cross Blue Shield’s Center for Prevention to focus on creating a community that is conducive to physical activity.
A partnership was formed called Active Living Douglas County. The group is made up of community partners with a common vision geared toward building a community that supports physical activity.
After a robust planning period, 2010 marked the first year of implementation for Active Living Douglas County. Since that time, the group has been involved in a variety of efforts, including:
• Complete Streets conversations – successfully brought the term “complete streets” to light. A series of community meetings took place that began a conversation toward designing a safer transportation system in Douglas County for all modes, including bicycles, pedestrians and those with disabilities.
• 3rd Avenue – partnered with the Douglas County Safe Communities coalition to explore safer crossing options for residents on 3rd Avenue in Alexandria. Work is now under way to secure funding to see the project to completion.
• Cycle to work – worked with two businesses, Alexandria Extrusion Company and Douglas Machine Inc., to begin cycle to work programs. Both worksites successfully and creatively got employees bicycling to and from work in an effort to build a healthy workforce.
• Schools mini-grants – administered mini-grants to Osakis Elementary School, School District 206-Community Education, Evansville School and St. Mary’s School. Grantees worked to increase physical activity opportunities for students and the community. Highlighted projects include the addition of disc golf and snowshoeing for students and residents in Evansville. Students in Osakis took part in a Safe Routes to School program where they enjoyed walking and bicycling to and from school.
• Comprehensive plan – advocated for the incorporation of active living principles in the Douglas County Comprehensive Plan. These principles will help ensure Douglas County’s future land use plans include amenities that support physical activity like bicycle lanes, parks, sidewalks and trail systems that connect residents to popular destinations.
• Social media – launched a website and Facebook page in an effort to connect to the community and showcase physical activity opportunities in Douglas County.
• Bike rack match program – partnered with the Alexandria Bicycle Club to place 13 new bicycle racks in Douglas County through a 50-50 cost share with local businesses.
• Community walking maps – created and distributed more than 6,000 copies of walking maps in Alexandria and Osakis. Maps are designed to encourage residents and visitors to learn about and enjoy their city on foot.
As Active Living Douglas County moves into 2011, much of the work will be focused on building on the accomplishments of 2010, according to members. Their goal is that residents and visitors will see tangible things in their community that will make it easier to incorporate physical activity into their daily lives.
For more information on Active Living Douglas County, or to find out how you can get involved, contact Jessica Peterson at Douglas County Public Health at (320) 763-6018. For additional program resources, go to www.activelivingdc.com or visit Facebook.