Weather Forecast


Osceola County gets wellness grant

SIBLEY, Iowa -- The Osceola County Board of Health has been awarded $116,399 to improve the health of its community.

The funding comes from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services through the Harkin Wellness Grant program and the Iowa State Legislature's support of local health initiatives. The board submitted a competitive grant application earlier this summer to the Iowa Department of Public Health to help implement a creative approach to preventing disease and promoting wellness in Osceola County.

Eric Knoblock, Osceola Community Hospital Wellness Center director and project coordinator, said the goal is to curb rising obesity rates by increasing collaboration among service providers in the county. The grant proposal focuses on strengthening individual knowledge and skills regarding exercise and nutrition and educating the community on issues related to obesity.

"The overall goals of the project are to: develop a community wellness coalition; create enhancements to community activities through equipment and programming; to collaborate with physical education programs; increase physical activity for all ages in the community; to implement a free county-wide health assessment; and finally sustain these activities continuously at the end of the two-year grant," Knoblock explained.

Plans are to increase availability of facilities, equipment and physical activity in the community. Current ideas for future outdoor activities include ice skating, ice climbing, disc golf, cross-country skiing, sand volleyball, inline skating, biking and rock climbing. In regard to nutrition and health, healthy cooking classes and nutrition instruction programs will be developed for Osceola County residents.

The project is slated to begin in November and continue until November 2010. Local partners in the project include Osceola Community Health Services, Osceola Community Hospital, Iowa State University Extension-Osceola County, Sibley-Ocheyedan Community School District and the City of Sibley.

"Prevention and health promotion today are the keys to reducing health-care costs tomorrow and for helping Iowans live a longer, happier life," said U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, who helped secure the federal portion of the new funding. "I congratulate the Osceola County Board of Health, and I look forward to learning how this project improves the health of this community."

For more about the project or to get involved, contact Knoblock, (712) 754-9260 or