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SHIP program seeks help with Safe Routes To School Day and school wellness group

If you are the parent or grandparent of an elementary school student and want those kids of yours to start the day on an active note there is an upcoming event you should mark on your calendar. Heck, even if you don't have kids or grandkids who attend Minnehaha Elementary but still want to see neighborhood kids start their day on an active note, mark your calendar as well. The Statewide health Improvement Plan (SHIP) needs your help Wednesday, Oct. 3, to make Safe Routes To School Day successful.

We're hoping it will be the start of an effort to get kids more active by walking and biking to school more often. SHIP will be hosting the event as part of a nationwide push to reverse a trend that has seen a big drop in the number of kids that get to school under their own power. Two Harbors recently received a MnDOT Safe Routes To School (SRTS) grant that will be used to help develop a plan which schools and community can implement to make the environment safe for students already walking or biking to school and to address the issues and barriers for parents whose kids are not routinely, or ever, walking or biking to school.

Again, we'll be needing volunteers to make the day a success and I envision parents, seniors, high school students and community members who live along the avenues and streets of Two Harbors to act as "walking mentors" for the kids on the day of the event. In the long run the goal is to create action steps to educate, encourage, engineer safe walkways and provide the safety that will lead to a sustainable Safe Routes program. Let me know if you want to be a part of the SRTS Team. SHIP will host a Safe Routes kickoff On Wednesday, Sept. 26, 6 pm, in the Split Rock Room at the Human Services Building, across from the courthouse.

A little background on the Statewide Health Improvement Program. The second round of SHIP grants from the Minnesota Dept. of Health came through last fall, allowing SHIP in Lake County to continue wellness efforts in our communities and schools, this time focusing on the Two Harbors area.

A similar effort took place in Silver Bay over a 2-year period, ending in June 2011.

This Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP) grant will focus on creating wellness policies and action plans for the City of Two Harbors, Two Harbors High School and Minnehaha Elementary. The strategy will target participation in three areas: Safe Routes to Schools, Healthy School Food and an Active Transportation effort within the larger community of Two Harbors. The SHIP effort in Two Harbors has an overall goal of creating lasting and sustainable wellness plans created by local folks who care about providing healthier foods and active living choices for our kids and residents.

We've created a Walkability and Wellness Coalition to help direct those policy changes. If you're interested in any of the three strategies, or all of them, please get involved.

Simple lifestyle changes can lead to healthier lives. Our goal will be to increase the health of Two Harbors by developing sustainable community programs and policy changes that support active lifestyles and healthy nutrition. For that to take place community members, from kids to seniors, are invited to bring their ideas to the table.

Small changes can make a big difference in the overall health of a community.

Again, I hope to be able to bridge SHIP with the wellness and recreational plans already in place within the community and create a healthier place for all. There is huge potential to make Two Harbors the "City of Wellness...with Healthy Schools to Boot."

I know there are a host of local folks out there walking our trails and practicing healthy food options. Bring your ideas to the wider community and be a part of these upcoming efforts. Please feel free to contact me at 834-8520 or email me at