Healthy Hometown program kicks off new wellness partnership

Muscatine Community Y staff members kicking off the Healthy Hometown Wellness Challenge with a walk around the track.

MUSCATINE, Iowa–For many, the start of a new year marks a time when they try new fitness activities or focus on new healthy lifestyle practices they want to adopt. For the organizations and businesses partnering for Healthy Hometown, a program developed by Blue Cross Blue Shield Wellmark, this new push to help community members live healthier lives represents a continuation of ongoing efforts. “Several years ago there was a lot of ‘buzz’ and working toward healthy lifestyles when Muscatine was designated a Blue Zone Community,” said Muscatine Community Y Health Promotion Services Director Melanie Steckel. “We hope that the Wellness Challenge and other Healthy Hometown activities will pick up where Blue Zone left off and generate recognition and excitement to work toward healthy lifestyles.”

For about the past year and a half, the City of Muscatine, the Greater Muscatine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Muscatine Community School District, the Muscatine Community Y, the Muscatine Diabetes Project, United Way of Muscatine, University of Iowa Healthcare’s Muscatine Clinic, and UnityPoint Trinity Muscatine have met regularly to discuss overall ways they can help make the community a healthier place. These have included looking at ways to expand and maintain the City’s trail system, ensuring easy access to healthy food, and promoting organizations that offer physical and mental health supports.

To help engage local businesses in this work, the Wellness Council Muscatine Employers, or WELCOME group formed. Together, representatives from the City, Bayer, CBI Bank and Trust, Carver Pump, Hy-Vee, Impact Athletic Performance, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Muscatine County, Kent Corporation, Muscatine Community College, Muscatine Community School District, The Muscatine Community Y, Muscatine Power and Water, Stanley Consultants, Team Staffing, UnityPoint Trinity Muscatine, and Vision 2020 started developing initiatives businesses could get involved in. For their first project, they announced the Healthy Hometown Employer Wellness Challenge.

To participate, businesses register their employees for the first quarter and provide them with challenge sheets that contain a variety of activities relating to eating well, exercising more, and doing activities that promote mental health. As individuals complete at least nine of the 12 challenges listed on the eat well, move more, and feel better sheets, they turn them in to the person at their business coordinating their participation. Coordinators in turn will submit completed challenges to the WELCOME group, who will provide a traveling trophy to the business with the largest percentage of employees completing the challenge in small, medium, and large divisions. The challenge officially began Jan. 15, but interested businesses may still contact any WELCOME group member to sign up for this quarter or a future quarter.

As the Healthy Hometown Wellness Challenge gets going in Muscatine, organizers believe many businesses will get involved with it and enjoy it. “This is a simple, great way to get our mindset into a healthy frame of mind especially coming off of the year 2020,” enthused Regional Professional Development Coordinator and Trinity Continuing Education Coordinator Linda Anders. In the future when people can safely gather in large groups again, the WELCOME planners would also like to create teambuilding and wellness group activities for businesses to take part in.