2012 Excellence in Physical Activity Award: Washington County Board of Health
The Washington County Board of Health received the Excellence in Physical Activity Award for their diligent work to improve the physical activity environment in Washington County through policy and environmental change. The county is currently working to implement their community health plan through two task forces: the SAFE Solutions for Washington County Youth task force and the Obesity Prevention Task Force.
The Obesity Prevention Task Force has been diligently working to improve the walkability of their community. This included working with three communities to implement the Iowans Walking and Logistics Kit (I-WALK). This process enabled communities to establish a local coalition to address issues surrounding children's ability to walk and bike to school. The first community to complete the I-WALK process, Kalona, utilized the information in their successful application for a Department of Transportation Safe Routes to School grant to improve the physical infrastructure of their community.
The community also adopted elements of a Complete Streets policy to ensure pedestrian and bicycle issues are routinely addressed. In addition, the momentum from the Kalona project has been used to identify two additional communities that will address walkability this spring, Washington and Wellman. All of these projects are important components to implementing the Iowans Fit for Life plan, because they increase the number of healthy eating and physical activity opportunities by fostering supportive policies and environments.