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October 21, 2020

SIOUX FALLS, SD – Two South Dakota communities — Custer and Rapid City — were each presented with a 2020 Healthy HometownSM Powered by Wellmark Community Award during the Chronic Disease Partners/Better Choices, Better Health® Meeting held virtually on Oct. 20, 2020. The award is in recognition for their accomplishments in health improvement initiatives within their respective communities. This is the second year these two communities have received this prestigious award.

"We are pleased to present Custer and Rapid City with the 2020 Healthy HometownSM Powered by Wellmark Community Award," said Laura Jackson, Wellmark chief health officer. "As multi-year award winners, all the cumulative work that has been done within these communities is to be celebrated. And because this work is so important, Custer and Rapid City will also receive $5,000 to continue the important work of improving the physical, social and emotional well-being of the community."

Some noteworthy achievements in Custer include:

  • Established a local "bark park" with water access and a picnic table shelter to provide a safe and convenient place for people to entertain their dogs and meet other pet owners.
  • Facilitated classes with local students that promoted locally sourced food and taste-testing.
  • Enhanced walking and biking crosswalks.

"The Custer Area Economic Development Corporation (CAEDC) – Recreation/Wellness Initiative Team is honored to receive the 2020 Healthy Hometown Powered by Wellmark Community Award," said Colleen Hennessy, community volunteer. "What a great way for the Custer community to reflect on all it has accomplished this past year!"

Each year the CAEDC Recreation/Wellness Initiative Team chooses four or more identified goals to assist the community in identified areas. If you would like to be part of this active and successful Custer group, send an email to: Send Email.

Some noteworthy achievements in Rapid City include:

  • Started on-site gardens at local daycares to help children learn about healthy eating habits and growing their own food.
  • Installed outdoor fitness equipment at a local park.
  • Added a community garden, disc golf course and a walking/biking path to an old golf course.

"All of the praise goes to our community partners for their passion and efforts to implement initiatives to improve and promote healthy living in Rapid City," said Christina Prehn, YMCA of Rapid City/Live Well Black Hills. "We look forward to paying the Healthy Hometown award forward to advance more projects to support the health and well-being of our community."

To learn more about the work Rapid City is doing to support well-being initiatives for a healthier, more active community, visit External Site.

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