The Freeman community was presented with the 2023 Healthy HometownSM Powered by Wellmark Community Award during the Chronic Disease Prevention & Health Promotion Annual Partners Conference held in Mitchell on Thursday, October 12. The award recognizes Freeman for its accomplishments in health improvement initiatives within the community.
“We are pleased to present Freeman with the 2023 Healthy HometownSM Powered by Wellmark Community Award,” said Laura Jackson, Wellmark’s executive vice president, health equity, access and improvement. “The work that has been done within Freeman is to be celebrated. And because this work is so important, the community will receive $5,000 for their continued efforts to improve the physical, social and emotional well-being of their community.”
Some noteworthy achievements in Freeman include increased safety and walkability in Freeman with upgraded sidewalks that include zero-grade curbing, adding a crosswalk and four-way stop. The relocation of the Freeman Farmers Market provides for additional access to healthy foods and social interactions. And, efforts to promote bicycle safety and physical activity by hosting a bike rodeo and arranging for bike and helmet distribution have also impacted the community in a positive way.
Accepting the award on behalf of Freeman’s Healthy HometownSM Powered by Wellmark team were Freeman city councilor Tabitha Schoenwald of Freeman Regional Health Services, and Carol Eisenbeis, development and marketing coordinator for the city of Freeman.
In addition to Schoenwald and Eisenbeis, current members of Freeman’s Healthy HometownSM Powered by Wellmark team are Angie Brockmueller, Heather Iversen, Dr. Dennis Ries, Shirley Ries and Courtney Unruh. Iversen, community health nurse for Freeman Regional and the surrounding area, is credited with completing the documentation that resulted in the award.
“The Healthy Hometown Community award is an acknowledgment of our community’s desire to create a quality of life that impacts the physical health and emotional well-being of our residents and guests in a positive way,” said Eisenbeis. “It’s empowering to know that intentional efforts put into motion are noticed as making a difference and it’s our hope that will build momentum for continued efforts.”
The funding received is planned to be used to provide benches or streetscaping elements that would enable people to linger, socialize, and more fully enjoy Freeman’s newly reconstructed Main Street that now includes other enhanced safety and accessibility features.
Freeman’s Healthy HometownSM Powered by Wellmark team was launched in 2018 through the Freeman Community Development Corporation and has been active since that time. The award received celebrates the successes achieved by communities to make South Dakota a healthier, more active place to live. To find out more information about this initiative, visit Wellmark.com/HealthyHometown.