Fort Atkinson

Why they stand out

Fort Healthy’s coalition-based approach to health fuels the body as well as the soul, because they bridge local history, nature and arts to invite community members to be active together. The Fort Healthy walking trail signage, in Fort Atkinson’s Haumerson Pond Recreation Area, is bringing together local artists with local experts in history, nature, education, and health. Scheduled for completion in Spring 2019, collaborators will create visually engaging, bilingual signage in English and Spanish to draw people to the trail and get them talking, learning and interacting on newly enhanced trails while they walk. Partners selected Haumerson Park for this project specifically because the in town location will allow more residents to access it without a car. The new trail will become the latest asset in a brochure that features safe walking routes throughout Fort Atkinson. Originally created as a result of coalition members’ walk audits, and widely distributed at medical offices and fitness centers throughout the community, the brochure similarly integrates local history and encourages people to be outdoors and absorb the significance of the environment around them.

Passion for the community clearly guides Fort Healthy’s effort to put health within reach for all. One of the coalition's main movers and shakers is director, Vicki Wright. A retired elementary school principal with many local connections and a strong ability to develop partnerships, Wright has walked the talk for years. As a principal, she implemented walking programs for students and opened her school for community members to walk. Now she teaches Silver Sneakers classes to seniors at the local recreation center. In addition to Wright, a diverse range of partners involved in Fort Healthy influenced the creation of more walking trails throughout the city and continually leverage their expertise and connections to raise greater awareness for healthy living and relevant policy change.

 

Fort Healthy’s first steps into policy change came with their ‘Rethink Your Drink’ effort to increase water consumption, as water is a necessary in a physically active lifestyle. A poster campaign featured prominent local leaders drinking water, while stakeholders from the business and school community partnered to increase the number of water bottle filling stations locally. The Fort Atkinson School District ultimately developed a new policy allowing water bottles and prohibiting the sales of sugar sweetened beverages in schools. This success has inspired them to take on more work that addresses access to healthy choices. With continued partnership from the regional hospital system, Fort HealthCare, looks for Fort Atkinson to continue its growth as an expert in creating local places that support healthy choices.

Approach to Equity

Fort Healthy aims to integrate equity into all of their work. For example, the Haumerson Pond project was selected as the location for the latest project specifically because it provides trail access within walking distance for community members experiencing higher levels of poverty. This was not the case for the other potential location that had been under consideration.

 

The coalition is aware that Fort Atkinson’s demographics have shifted dramatically over the past 15 years to include many more Spanish-speaking residents. To ensure equitable access to the educational materials on the signage along the walking trail, they have the information in both Spanish and English.  They have also been working closely with two members who are part of the Unity Project, a local group working to bridge cultural ties with newer Spanish speaking residents. They plan to continue building relationships within the Latino community and identify ways to create inclusive spaces in partnership with the community.  

Strategy snapshot

Local Action Strategies

  • Conduct a community walk audit

  • Create simple community walking loops / trails with signage

  • Place physical walking/biking route maps in the community

Planning to do: 

  • Bike donation or bike swap event

  • Installing bike racks and/or fix-it stations

  • Bike rodeo with police department

Community Engagement Strategies

  • Community walk audit

Planning to do: 

  • Community walk audit  

Community Impact

  • Establish a Bike/Ped Committee or provide information to the Safe Routes to School Task Force

Planning to do: ​

  • Attend a statewide conference /summit on active transportation

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How to help

Where they would like support or resources

  • Funding

  • Recruiting and retaining volunteers to be involved in their work

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Connect with Fort Healthy Wellness Coalition

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