This is a guest blog written by Mandy Feeks.
Mandy Feeks, MPH, CHES, is a Community Health Coordinator for Sherburne County Health and Human Services. One of her primary roles is to implement strategies identified within the Minnesota Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP), which strives to decrease obesity and chronic disease, by increasing physical activity and healthy eating, and decreasing tobacco use and exposure. Mandy focuses primarily on facilitating active transportation efforts in the community, so that walking and bicycling become a part of everyday life. She hopes that residents will have more opportunities to be active as a result of her work. Mandy enjoys promoting active and healthy lifestyles, and is an athlete and runner herself.
Regular physical activity is recognized as an important contributor to good health. Benefits from walking and bicycling include reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer; improved mood; stronger bones and muscles; controlled weight; and reduced risk of premature death. However many people live, work and play in environments that provide little opportunity for physical activity. Sidewalks, protected bike lanes, streets designs, and the location of parks make a difference in how active we can be. Those with access to walking and bicycling facilities are more able to incorporate physical activity into their daily lives.
About Open Streets in Becker and Prizes!
The City of Becker has been working to transform their community into a healthier, safer and more active region. On Monday, June 13th, they will host their first ever Open Streets! Open Streets events are meant to help people view streets in a new way. From 5:00 – 8:00 p.m., we will barricade off Bradley Blvd by the Becker Community Center and allow families to play in the streets with us. Activities in the street and nearby community center green space will include pickle ball, yard games, beach volleyball, music, Zumba, disc golf, farmers market vendors, and more. There will also be a bike rodeo in the school parking lot across the street, where children will be taught bicycle and safety skills to help them ride safely to school (must bring own bike to participate). All participants will be entered in for a chance to win free bikes and other prizes!
The goals of open streets are to encourage physical activity, increase advocacy for safer streets and raise awareness of the challenges that pedestrians and bicyclists face. In order to demonstrate what future streets could look like, we will exhibit a variety of street demonstration projects. Demo-projects include pop-up bike lanes, high visibility crosswalks, school speed zones, and other proposed changes featured in the school’s Safe Routes to School Plan. We welcome everyone and hope to see you there!
Above is a picture of Downtown St. Cloud’s Open Streets.
To see the Open Streets in Becker Flyer click Flyer FINAL
Let’s move Becker!!
Thanks for reading,
Mandy Feeks, MPH, CHES,
Community Health Coordinator for Sherburne County Health and Human Services
This is a guest blog by Anna Findsen
Anna is the Associate Health and Wellness Director at the St. Cloud Area Family YMCA. Her passion for the Y started after spending a summer at the YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park, CO where the mission of “Putting Christian principals into practice through programs that build a healthy spirit, mind and body for ALL” really resonated with her. Anna’s hobbies include hiking, cooking, taking road trips, and coaching soccer at North Junior High. She is looking forward to providing the community with a variety of fitness opportunities and the construction of the brand new St. Cloud YMCA Community and Aquatics Center!
May is National Bike Month! Why is biking so important that we have a whole month to celebrate it? Biking is a great lower body exercise that works your quads, hamstrings, hip flexors, and calf muscles. It also engages your abdominal and back muscles by keeping yourself upright while you are riding. Not only is it good exercise but it is also a clean and green form of transportation. Have you ever ridden your bike to work, your friend’s house, or the store? Give it a try sometime! You may find that you really enjoy the fresh air and physical activity.
Another way to celebrate National Bike Month is by riding with your whole family. The Wells Fargo Ride, Roll and Run event is a safe and fun way to ride your bikes with people of all ages. This race will be held on Saturday May 14th at the Sauk Rapids Municipal Park at 8:30 AM. There will be a 2 mile and 5 mile route that you and your family can either bike, roller blade, walk or run. After you cross the finish line you can enjoy snacks and beverages provided by Coborn’s and Bernick’s. We will also have Project BrainSafe there demonstrating how to properly fit a helmet.
This event is a part of the Bernick’s Family Fitness Series and is presented by the YMCA in conjunction with 104.7 KCLD and Times Media. This series has a family friendly event for every season of the year!
For more information and to register check out the St. Cloud YMCA website!
For those of you who may have missed it, October 7th was national Walk to School Day. Schools across the country took part and encouraged students to be more active by taking the extra step and walking to school. BLEND staff were lucky enough to participate and be present in events hosted locally, and we are proud to say that they were a success!
Melrose hosted their second annual Walk to School Day event this year, and their engaged staff and strong sense of community really helped to bring everything together. School buses dropped students off at a park down the road from the school, where little ones were greeted by high school volunteers, who handed them fun prizes and walked them to school in groups. Upon arrival at the school, they were welcomed with cheers and applause by volunteer students from the high school, and were refreshed with their own individual bottle of water. “I loved the interaction between the “big” kids and the elementary students, they really look up to the high-schoolers,” shared Stacey Austing-Jacobson, Community Education Coordinator at Melrose.
Despite the brisk temperatures, participation was high and students were so excited to participate! Austing-Jacobson shared, “It was a blast to see the kids all walking together and engaging before the school day even started!” We are already looking forward to next year, and are eager to get more schools on board and participating in this great event. For more information on how your community can participate, please contact your school, community representatives, or BLEND staff!
As you send your children back to school, it is important to make sure that they are getting there safely. Walking and biking to school are great ways for children to incorporate physical activity into their daily routine, and families should take do their best to participate, if they are able to! Before sending your children out onto local streets and sidewalks, it is important to make sure they are aware of traffic laws, wear proper safety gear, and are prepared for the responsibility that comes with being a pedestrian . Check out our video for some important information to go over with kids before sending them on their way to tackle the school year!
BLEND wishes all families a safe, fun, and active school year!
Summer’s arrival means fun-filled, long sunny days where children can get outside and be active. Often, though, children want to move beyond their backyard to a park or friend’s home. Having them walk, bike or roll to these destinations can be a great way for them to incorporate physical activity into their daily routine.
Here’s the thing: sending your children out into the world and trusting them to make safe decisions can be scary. Add in vehicles driving at highway speeds, and it’s tempting to play it safe by chauffeuring them around town. Despite our fears, obesity rates and decreased activity among our youth are on the rise, making it all the more important to address our reservations and make transportation on foot or wheels a realistic option. As parents, we need to view this as an opportunity to teach children street-smart best practices and behaviors. Here are some places to start:
- Always wearing protective gear, such as helmets, shin and wrist guards
- Obeying traffic laws, which include walking against traffic and biking or rolling with traffic
- Being aware of drivers and other pedestrians on the road
- Wearing brightly colored clothing to increase visibility
- Looking left, right, left and behind before crossing the street
- Mapping out paths that have sidewalks, limited street crossings and crossings with crosswalk
BLEND (Better Living: Exercise and Nutrition Daily) is excited to partner with parents to promote and encourage active living. For more safety tips, visit BLEND for a list of bike rodeos and helmet fittings. You also will find details on our Fit Kids Club Series activities. With some basic education, your children can enjoy a healthy and injury free summer.