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Creating healthier communities, one trail at a time

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention only 53 percent of adults get the recommended amount of daily aerobic activity. One way communities are working to increase physical activity is by improving access to outdoor recreational spaces.

Oneida County trailMarshfield Clinic Health System Community Benefits Coordinator Kate Hansen understands the positive impact outdoor recreational spaces can have on a community. That’s why she nominated the Oneida County Biking and Walking Trails Council for Security Health Plan’s Employee-Driven Corporate Giving grant. The Health Plan will invest $1,000 in the council. Each month Security Health Plan awards a different charity or organization that is nominated by a Marshfield Clinic Health System employee, a $1,000 grant. Employees are encouraged to nominate organizations making a positive difference in the community.

The Oneida County Biking and Walking Trails Council is a non-profit organization that encourages and supports accessible trails, bike lanes and sidewalks throughout Oneida County. Outdoor recreational spaces are not only an integral part of communities, but also provide environmental and health benefits. Expanding trails throughout Oneida County will help foster economic growth for the community, increase physical activity for those who have access to the trails and reduce their risk of chronic disease.

“This donation is important to me because developing trails that are walk-able and bike-able improve the quality of life for everyone in the community,” Hansen said.

Hansen explained she uses the trails in her leisure time and also in her commute to work. “The ability to hop on a bike to get to work is a wonderful asset to the community. It also helps me to maintain a fit, active lifestyle,” she said.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services reports one of the leading causes of death in Oneida County is heart disease. Increasing physical activity can help to reduce heart disease and other chronic diseases for those living within Oneida County. And that in turn, can even help reduce health care costs.

Oneida County signThough the benefits of trails are significant, so are the costs. To freshen and repair a crushed limestone trail costs approximately $600 per mile. Since the Oneida County Biking and Walking Trails Council is a non-profit organization, their only source of revenue is through fundraising, donations and grants. Funds received from Security Health Plan’s Employee-Driven Corporate Giving grant will be used to create and repair trail signage, print trail maps and educate youth about exercise and safe trail use.

Oneida County Biking and Walking Trails Council president Jackie Cody said the council is one of the sponsors of an annual bike rodeo for local third graders.

“We collaborate with other local agencies to bring a day-long event with biking safety and health education to children. This is an important part of the school curriculum to teach kids about exercise and safety,” Cody said.

Cody encourages the public to get involved. Those who have an interest are welcome to attend monthly board meetings, held the second Tuesday of the month.

“Getting the community involved will help us to live our mission to make Oneida County more walk-able and bike-able, and to improve the quality of life for everyone,” she said.

For more information on the Oneida County Biking and Walking Trails Council, to get involved, or make a donation, visit their webpage at www.bikeoneida.com or find them on Facebook.