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Prioritizing health and well-being

​Making Sioux Falls a better place to live, work and play ​

Picture this: It’s a warm, summer evening. You just arrived at the local park with your two kids for an outdoor screening of the latest Disney movie. You find the perfect spot, lay out your blanket and get ready to enjoy the film. But, someone starts smoking a few feet away — possibly ruining your fun evening.

This wouldn’t happen in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, thanks to the ordinance that prevents nicotine use on city property. Live Well Sioux Falls External Site, a program within the city’s health department, campaigned for the rule to protect people from the effects of secondhand smoke. The ordinance, impacting 183,000 people, was approved by the Sioux Falls City Council in May 2017 and prohibits the use of tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes, on city property or in parks where youth events are taking place. 

To recognize their dedication in keeping residents healthy, the city recently received an inaugural 2018 Healthy Hometown Community Award that will allow them to continue improving Sioux Falls' physical, social and emotional well-being. “It’s very rewarding, but that’s not why we do it,” says Mary Michaels, public health prevention coordinator at Live Well Sioux Falls. “We don’t do what we do for the recognition.”

Live Well Sioux Falls has been part of the community for almost six years. Since then, they’ve championed many initiatives to help locals eat well, move more and feel better.

Making fitness fun

About half the adults in Sioux Falls aren’t getting the daily recommended amount of exercise. So, Live Well Sioux Falls decided to make it a fun activity — and the idea for the annual Move Well Sioux Falls was born. For a few hours on a Saturday morning in August, more than 300 people participated in the city’s first-ever fitness festival. Local gyms, fitness studios, health and wellness vendors, chiropractors and more offered sample classes to capture the interest of attendees. “We’re already looking ahead to next year’s event and seeing how we can make it better,” says Michaels.

Encouraging movement

Fitness classes aren’t for everyone, though. To create more opportunities for residents to get out and move more, Live Well Sioux Falls took to the streets. In 2015, the city passed a Complete Streets policy that takes all modes of transportation into consideration when building new roads or modifying existing ones. And, the road diet in front of the City Center building that slows down traffic by changing a three-lane street into a two-lane street, makes for a more comfortable walking environment in Sioux Falls’ downtown.

The city also expanded a bike trail by more than a mile to connect 40,000 residents to 30 miles of uninterrupted trails. “We want to make sure we’re making these connections so people can get to work and to school,” says Michaels. “These trail connectors that get out into different neighborhoods make it easy for people to use the bike trail not just for recreation but also for daily transportation.”

Keeping the momentum going

With a long wish list of community health improvement projects and no sign of slowing down, Sioux Falls engages with partners throughout the community — like local businesses and groups — to keep everyone excited about upcoming projects and initiatives. “We like to showcase our partners and let them take the lead on a project,” says Michaels. “That way, the community feels like they own this work. Live Well Sioux Falls belongs to all of us!”

Want to make your community healthier?

Learn how Healthy HometownSM Powered by Wellmark can provide expert assistance to help your community eat well, move more and feel better. Check out Healthy Hometown online opens in new window or email Send Email for more information.