Aberdeen named ‘Healthy Hometown’ for second year in a row

The award is given to communities that improve the health of residents through projects
Published: Oct. 18, 2022 at 4:21 PM CDT
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ABERDEEN, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Aberdeen has received the ‘Healthy Hometown’ award from Wellmark Community for the 2nd year in a row thanks to health improvement initiatives the Hub City completed in 2022.

The award is given to communities that improve the health of residents through projects that encourage citizens to eat well, move more and feel better.

Aberdeen listed seven projects on its application, including the new stoplight on Lawson Street and Melgaard Road, which helps with both pedestrian and vehicle traffic.

”The city has been growing a lot, and has been growing toward that south end of town, toward the high school. In the new neighborhood over there, there’s been a lot more traffic,” said traffic control foreman Michael Thomle.

Almost a mile of sidewalk was also added to 6th Avenue near the shopping district to improve accessibility.

”That’s been needed for awhile. There was actually kind of a goat path, a little trail that went through the ditch that people had used it so much to get out to the shopping areas and stuff out there. “To increase the walkability and handicap accessibility, they added sidewalk all the way through there, because you could see the need for it,” said Thomle.

Aberdeen built pickleball courts at Manor Park and a new softball complex to increase recreational options. They also made sure healthy options for food were available.

”Concessions that were made available at the softball complex, they added some healthy menu items kind of at the request of our group,” said Lisa Anderson, Marketing and Collaboration Director for the Aberdeen Chamber of Commerce.

Some projects listed on the applications weren’t city-led, but were considered projects that improved the Hub City’s health.

“Other things that helped us win the award was the addition of an unlimited fruit and vegetables bar at all the Aberdeen public schools, and then also the Avera Addiction Care Center distributed 1,500 ‘Quit Kits’ in town, like smoking cessation kits,” said Anderson.

The community received $5,000 for the award, and the Health & Wellness committee members already have an idea of what they want to use it for.

“The tactics that we want to work for to make Aberdeen better, that’s where that money will be going back into, some of those things that we still want to do in the future. Food insecurity is one of the things that we’ve discussed quite a bit. We kind of have a food desert on the west side of town, so we’re trying to figure out how we can help get healthy items to them,” said Anderson.

Other South Dakota communities that were awarded the ‘Healthy Hometown’ title this year include Martin and Sioux Falls.