If you have paid attention to the news recently, you might have noticed that Pierre was recently announced as a recipient of the Healthy Community award presented by Wellmark. You also might recall that Fort Pierre received this award last year due to their efforts with the community garden among other things.

Now your first thought might be that this is nice, but let me assure you this is excellent news in regards to the efforts our community is making in regards to safety and way of life.

We live in a time where it is so much easier to find fault and negativity in things that we often overlook the many good things that are going on.

So what exactly have we been doing to make our community healthier in such a way that it stands out for this award? For starters there are over 90 different tactics in which communities can focus on improving, or things they have done which create a positive impact. This includes everything from healthy eating and moving more to feeling better.

The YMCA and the city of Pierre worked together and showcased several tactics that demonstrate a focus on creating a healthier community. The four tactics were: offering a variety of fitness programs in multiple settings, install and repair sidewalks throughout the community, and establish and enhance existing greenspace and playground areas.

Last October the Y and the city of Pierre partnered to install a sidewalk off of Church Street to the Y. Previously, there was no sidewalk in the location, causing pedestrians to walk through a street entrance and highly active parking lot to reach the building. In my comments to the city commission, I explained that this sidewalk was installed as a safety precaution. During the summer months kids and families can walk through the grass safely, but during the winter months when it would snow, many would walk through the parking lot. It was also difficult for those using a stroller or on bike. This addition has impacted the hundreds of kids who walk to the Y after school, as well adults and families.

Speaking of walkability, the city continues to work on the many sidewalks around town, including the section from Steamboat Park to Griffin Park. The new wider section installed has been great for families to walk and bike along the river, which is one of my favorite scenic areas in the city.

These are just a few of the many efforts being done that help make a healthier and safer community for everyone. If you have ever noticed at the end of the weekly newsletter from the chamber they end with “life is good on the river,” and I have to agree whole heartedly. Life is good, and we can all work together to make it even better.

Aaron Fabel, B.A in Exercise Science and Wellness, is the CEO at the Oahe Family YMCA. He can be reached by email at ajfabel@oaheymca.org.

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