Parks and Rec Dept wins AIC City Achievement Award

May 22, 2020 | By Mike Freeman


MOUNTAIN HOME, Idaho, (May 22, 2020) – The Association of Idaho Cities announced the results of its 2020 City Achievement Awards Tuesday, and Mountain Home is among the winners. The City’s Parks and Recreation Department was recognized for programs that enhance the health and well-being of the community. The department won the award for its Community Health and Wellness Programs, including Fitness Rx and Heighten Your Health, as well as Mountain Home’s 2020 Arbor Day and Earth Day celebration.

Fitness Rx focuses on exercise programs like Zumba and Bailando Fitness, which are designed to enhance participants’ physical and metal health. The programs are structured to offer Mountain Home citizens fun, energetic exercise alternatives which also provide opportunities to build community connections and support.   Fitness Rx is conducted in partnership with St. Luke’s through the Community Health Improvement Fund, and classes are free for residents.

Heighten Your Health is a series of cooking classes that promote healthy lifestyles. The hands-on programming engages residents of all ages and includes tips for meal prepping, cooking on a budget, proper portioning practices and diabetes management. Little Chefs classes also teach beginning kitchen skills to youth ages 8-13 years old. These programs are also made possible through the Community Health Improvement Fund and are available at minimal cost to participants.

Elmore County currently has a higher percentage of obese residents (35 percent) than the current state (29 percent) average and a higher rate of physical inactivity. One Parks and Recreation Department goal is to battle these trends by promoting healthy lifestyle choices and offering residents free or low-cost options for improving their physical and mental health.

“Our motto is ‘Play Often, Live Better’,” said Tiffany Belt, City of Mountain Home recreation superintendent. “We’re really proud of the ways this programming supports that vision and helps our community members achieve their health goals. All of our instructors are very knowledgeable and passionate about what they do and I think that helps our participants stay focused and motivated.”

Another program recognized for excellence by the AIC is the Parks Department’s 2020 Arbor Day and Earth Day Celebration. Due to social distancing requirements cause by the coronavirus outbreak, the department adjusted the program to align with Center for Disease Control guidelines while still providing residents with a meaningful observance and concrete benefits. This year’s observance included a seedling drop-off day when Parks and Recreation personnel delivered seedlings directly to the homes of residents who requested them in advance. That was followed by a drive-though event where residents were offered curbside pick-up for their seedlings. Both events were free, and department personnel and volunteers collectively delivered 500 tree and shrub seedlings to Mountain Home citizens. Belt said the department’s partnership with University of Idaho Extension Elmore County was key to the program’s success.

“Our Parks and Rec Department is one of the best in the state,” said Mountain Home Mayor Rich Sykes. “A big part of that is due to the proactive and imaginative thinking of our superintendents and staff. They’ve done an outstanding job implementing these programs for the good of our community, and I’m very happy to know they’re getting some recognition for all their hard work. It’s certainly well-deserved praise.”