Why they stand out
As a rural community, collaborators in Jackson County realize the importance of building opportunities for physical activity and health into the fabric of the local ‘hubs’ visited most frequently by residents. For example, the Jackson In Action coalition successfully advocated for the addition of appropriate sidewalk and active design features with the construction of key places like the Lunda Community Center in Black River Falls and the newly constructed Red Creek Elementary school. Partners are also committed to reducing cost barriers to recreation opportunities. The Ho-Chunk Nation offers free access to its recreation center for Tribal and non-Tribal members, while the non-profit Lunda Center provides its many amenities (aquatics, walking track, gym, climbing wall and more) at a lower cost than comparable facilities in larger communities.
The Jackson In Action coalition lives up to its name by creating many ways for people to be active together. They are working to raise awareness through signage and creation of a new map that pinpoints locations like trails, rec centers and walking loops. They also coordinate programs that encourage people of all ages to have fun and be active together year round, including Laces to Leaders, Move with a Doc, Hunter Fitness Classes, or Family Snowshoe Day, to name just a few. They’ve also found ways to bring together physical activity and healthy eating goals, for example, offering a 5210 healthy habit challenge or providing farmer’s market coupons to fitness class attendees. According to coordinator Dawn Jacobson, “Our brand is established and we are gaining momentum.”
Jackson County’s story is inspiring because in under a decade, they turned a modest coalition seed investment into measurable improvements in health outcome rankings. Jackson In Action continues to serve as a champion for an active community, thanks to backbone support from Black River Memorial Hospital and the Ho-Chunk Nation, and leaders say you can see and feel the difference. Look around the Lunda Community Center’s many opportunities for youth after school, with basketball, rock climbing, walking and more, and it’s evident that an active community helps to grow healthy minds and bodies. Way to go, Jackson In Action. Keep showing us how to lead the way to an active rural community!
Approach to Equity
Because of the relatively high proportion of people living below the poverty line in Jackson County, there is a focus on eliminating income-based barriers to participation in physical activity. There is a strong presence of the Ho-Chunk Nation within Jackson County, and this community has been steadfast in its core value of inclusion of all. The new Ho-Chunk Community and Fitness Center, for example, is free for all Tribal and non-Tribal members to use, and is located centrally where many Tribal members reside. The Lunda Community Center has also been innovative in regards to cost barriers, having established a trust fund to offset portions of operating costs, allowing rates to remain at a more reasonable level. Transportation is still an issue for many in Jackson County. Because the community is rural, those without access to an automobile have difficulty accessing the increased number of physical activity-related resources in the area. Jackson In Action wants to develop ways to address this barrier.