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October 18, 2019

DES MOINES, IA – Five South Dakota communities — Custer, Dell Rapids, Martin, Pierre and Rapid City — were each presented with a 2019 Healthy HometownSM Powered by Wellmark Community Award during the Chronic Disease Partners/Better Choices, Better Health® Meeting on Oct. 16, 2019. The award is in recognition for their accomplishments in health improvement initiatives within their respective communities.

These cities will each receive $5,000 to continue the important work of improving the physical, social and emotional well-being of their communities.

Some noteworthy achievements in these 2019 Healthy Communities include:


  • Establishing the Healing Garden & Therapy Walking Path at Custer Regional Hospital/Clinic that provides an opportunity for physical activity to 24 volunteers, 300 patients, 175 staff, 13,000 outpatients and countless visitors.
  • Creating a small pocket park at the Custer Veterans Memorial Park complete with benches for visitors to gather, reflect, learn and be inspired.
  • Supporting programming for local 7th and 8th graders to taste test new fruits and vegetables and also provides recipes for them to prepare at home.

Dell Rapids

  • Extending and widening a mile and a half of the Sioux Red Rock Trail, connecting housing to the golf course; and installing a crosswalk, pergola and a little free library along the trail.
  • Making park improvements, including adding a shade structure at the swimming pool, a new comfort station restroom with shower and drinking water access at the campground.
  • Holding a "Live Well Food Demonstration" event at a local grocery store, which included a demonstration for how to choose and cut mangoes.


  • Bennett County School District implemented several school wellness initiatives, like installing new water bottle filling stations, moving recess before lunch and banning unhealthy food and beverage marketing on school grounds.
  • Community-supported Bountiful Backpack Program that teaches young people a recipe and gives them the ingredients to make it at home.
  • Sunrise Housing Community Garden added programming to include food prep training for Youth Center youth. Fifty local youth and 10 adults planted, maintained and harvested the garden.


  • Establishing minimum standards for sidewalks that includes width, thickness, surfacing, edging, joint construction and finishing.
  • Partnering with Oahe Family YMCA to improve pedestrian safety by installing sidewalks between the curb and entrance to the YMCA.
  • Relocating and expanding the YMCA's newly wheelchair-accessible playground and adding a new garden plot as part of their after-school programming.

Rapid City

  • Widening the sidewalk from Milwaukee to Maple streets and installing a bike lane between Sturgis Road and Sheffer Street on West Chicago Street.
  • Purchasing three new bike racks and installing one new bicycle repair station.
  • Providing boxes of food with vouchers for fruits and vegetables through the Black Hills Community Health Clinic.

The Healthy HometownSM Powered by Wellmark Community Award celebrates the successes achieved by these five communities to make South Dakota a healthier, more active place to live. To find out more information about this initiative, visit