A group of children dive face-first into the mud during the mud run obstacle course at the National Trail Parks and Recreation’s first ever Mud Fest Friday, July 15, 2015. NTPRD’s programming is part of why Springfield was named a 2016 Healthy Community Award Winner from the Ohio Department of Health’s Creating Healthy Communities program. Bill Lackey/Staff

Springfield wins healthy community award

The city was named a 2016 Healthy Community Award Winner from the Ohio Department of Health’s Creating Healthy Communities program. Springfield was one of 13 cities statewide that won the award out of more than 100 eligible communities, said Elizabeth Evans Peterson, the county’s Creating Healthy Communities program coordinator.

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“It’s representative of the work that was done in 2016,” Evans Peterson said. “It’s the community’s award.”

The Clark County Combined Health District presented the award to Mayor Warren Copeland last week.

In 2014, the health district received a Creating Healthy Communities grant, which created a dedicated staff position to focus on make healthy changes in the three priority communities — Clark County, Springfield and New Carlisle. The state has programs in 23 counties designed to create a healthy culture and eliminate chronic diseases.

Several projects completed by different partners led to the award, Evans Peterson said, including the Warder Fit Stop, a free exercise area constructed at a former vacant lot at 226 Warder St. The project was funded by a $20,000 grant through the CHC program.

The award also recognized the National Trail Parks and Recreation District’s network of parks and its new website, which promotes different physical activities at different parks, she said. The community also created a bike ambassador group, which promotes safety and way-finding for new trail riders, Evans Peterson said.

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New policies also helped the community’s application, such as improvements to bike trails and shared bike lanes on city streets.

The award comes on the heels of the community being named the least healthy city in Ohio in late 2015 by a national financial website. The Creating Healthy Communities Coalition has more than a dozen of partner agencies working hard to improve health, she said.

“A lot of people are trying hard to make a difference,” Evans Peterson said. “It takes awhile. These are big things that we’re fighting, but we are making a difference. This is a great place to live and work.”

The community will work to be honored in other categories next year, such as healthy eating and tobacco-free, she said. The coalition is working to create more tobacco-free zones and make safety improvements to the bike paths with bike patrols, Evans Peterson said.

“We want people to use these beautiful trails and get some physical activity,” she said.

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