MANKATO, MN – The Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee (MNSBHC) Legacy Fund today awarded Blue Earth County Public Health with a $50,902 grant to purchase 60 bikes and two bike trailers for schools in the Mankato area.
Blue Earth County Public Health’s BE WELL initiative, its partnership with Statewide Health Improvement Partnership and the city of Mankato are continuously looking for ways to make biking and walking more accessible for residents of Mankato. BE WELL supports efforts of physical education teachers at local schools to incorporate the Walk! Bike! Fun! curriculum into their classes. The bike fleet will help teach students and families about how to safely travel around the community on foot and by bicycle.
The grant from the MNSBHC Legacy Fund allows Blue Earth County Public Health to offer the program to every school in the Mankato Area Public School District, which serves approximately 8,300 children.
The grant is part of the Super Bowl Legacy Grant Program, which is made possible each year by a $1 million contribution courtesy of the NFL Foundation and is complemented by the Super Bowl Host Committee. Through its 52 Weeks of Giving campaign, the MNSBHC has launched a year-long effort to make Super Bowl LII a statewide event by awarding 52 communities with grants that will help improve the health and wellness of young people in Minnesota.
Blue Earth County Public Health hosted a celebration today at the Minnesota Vikings’ training camp to commemorate the grant dedication. Approximately 26 kids from Mankato were the first to ride the new bikes and were invited to attend a training camp practice and meet Vikings players, who encouraged them to stay active and healthy.
“Greater Mankato Bike and Walk Advocate’s long term goal is to encourage a healthy lifestyle through biking and walking. Bike education in area schools and acquiring the bike fleet are the result of long term efforts of the Greater Mankato and Bike Walk Advocates,” said Tom Engstrom.
“Having bikes available at schools and involving physical education teachers in this effort is key to allowing more students the chance to participate in a healthy and fun activity, regardless of whether he or she has their own bike at home,” added Kelley Haeder, Public Health Supervisor, Blue Earth County. “It will build skills that will last a lifetime.”
The bike fleets also include adaptive bikes and balance bikes so that kids with limited physical abilities can take part in the BE WELL program. In the summer months, kids who participate in the district’s summer child care, community education and recreation programs, and local non-profits that serve youth or low-income families will use the bikes in daily activities.
“The bikes we purchased with this generous grant will tremendously impact the health and wellness of young people in the Mankato School District,” said Kristen Friedrichs, SHIP Coordinator, Blue Earth County. “The Walk! Bike! Fun! training helps keep kids active and teaches them how to get around their community safely and more conveniently on bikes. We are looking forward to working with more school districts in Blue Earth County who are interested in incorporating this into their curriculum.”
In addition to a partnership with the Greater Mankato Bike & Walk Advocates, the BE WELL project is a collaborative effort with Visit Mankato, the Mankato Clinic Foundation, Orthopedic and Fracture Clinic (OFC), and Mankato Area Public Schools.
“Blue Earth County Public Health and its partner organizations are undergoing an ambitious campaign to improve the health of all students in the Mankato Area Public Schools and other schools in the County,” said Dana Nelson, Vice President of Legacy and Community Partnerships for the MNSBHC Legacy Fund. “We are excited to help provide access to bikes and bike safety training to children in Mankato and surrounding communities as part of our 52 Weeks of Giving.”
The Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee is a private, non-profit corporation formed to plan and execute Super Bowl LII. For more information visit www.mnsuperbowl.com and follow @mnsuperbowl2018 on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat.