Ames wins Healthy Iowa Community Award


Photo: Yanhua Huang/Iowa State Daily

Mayor Ann Campbell presides over the regular City Council meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 25, where she she accepted the Healthy Iowa Community Award.

Leah Hansen

The city’s steps toward healthy living were rewarded when Ames Mayor Ann Campbell and the members of the City Council were presented with the Healthy Iowa Community Award Tuesday, Sept. 25.

“We were thrilled [to hear about the award] because we had a group that has been working on the Healthiest Ames Initiative,” Campbell said. “[We] feel like we have many steps that we would still like to follow, but the fact that this acknowledged what we have already done was a real shot in the arm.”

The award was presented by Elaine Hieber, co-chairwoman of Healthiest Ames Initiative, and Stephanie Downs, health promotion coordinator for Ames and board member for Healthiest Ames Initiative.

“It is a very good statement for the entire community that we have something very good going and that we can use this hopefully to further the initiative that has been started,” Campbell said.

The application for the award was submitted by the Healthiest Ames Initiative, formerly known as the Ames Blue Zones Project Team.

When Ames was not chosen as one of the Blue Zones, the committee decided it would better serve the community of Ames with a self-directed path.

“At the time, we were disappointed not to be one [of the Blue Zones]. however, I think one of the things that this [award] says is that we have already done so many things,” Campbell said.

The next step to encourage Ames residents to continue living healthy is Wednesday, Oct. 3, with the Healthiest State Walk.

“A year ago we kicked off our Blue Zones effort with the Start Somewhere Walk,” Campbell said. “So we are in the midst for the Healthiest State Walk. … Our walk will start here at City Hall and walk around Main Street, but there are a number of others including on campus.”

Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield, which sponsored the Blue Zones Project, has offered to meet with the Healthiest Ames Initiative to suggest future steps toward healthy living.

“[The Healthiest State Walk is] the next step and then after that we are meeting [with Wellmark],” Campbell said. “They are being very generous in coming to meet with our committee to help give us ideas and directions on next steps to do. So we will be doing that in mid-October.”

The Healthiest Ames Initiative has used many resources through Iowa State to promote healthy living throughout the Ames community.

“The beauty around this work is that across our business, health, city and university sectors there are like-minded people who strive to enrich and improve the lives of our community members,” said Peter Englin, director of Iowa State’s Department of Residence. “This only touches on the breadth and depth of the local expertise this collaboration brings to bear on improving the health and well-being of the Ames/ISU community.”

Englin has helped promote healthy living on campus and within the city of Ames.

“I served on the ‘Power 9’ advisory board during the city’s bid to become a Wellmark/Healthway’s Blue Zones community and currently serve on the Healthiest Ames Initiative and Healthiest Iowa State Initiative committees,” Englin said. “While Ames was not selected [as a Blue Zone] among the initial four communities, we learned through our bid process that we were already achieving great things around living well. The compilation of our existing programs, services and activities within our community led to our selection for the Healthiest Iowa Community Award.”

Now that the community of Ames has been recognized for its strides toward healthy living, Campbell is excited to continue moving forward.

“The one thing that people have been wondering about is that we were going full steam ahead in the Blue Zones era, and then it’s taken some time for the committee, for the co-chairs to step back and say ‘now where do we go from here?'” Campbell said. “I’m expecting October to be an active month, particularly after we meet with the Wellmark people.”