Those out for a walk near the Foster County Courthouse or driving on the Highway 200 overpass in Carrington may notice the new, brightly colored park equipment in the Foster County Courthouse Park. Improvement efforts to the park have been in the works since January 2018 and were recently completed with the return of nicer weather. The most recent equipment installments were a result of a $50,000 grant from the CHI Mission and Ministry Fund to CHI St. Alexius Health Carrington with the intent to continue improving the park’s physical environment. By improving the equipment, children of all ages and adults are now able to safely enjoy outdoor physical activity opportunities at the park. The CHI Mission and Ministry Fund provides funding for planning, development and implementation of new initiatives to promote healthy communities in the communities CHI serves.
The grant application needed to include projects or programming identified in the hospital’s community health needs assessment. At the time of grant application, the community health needs assessment identified obesity and overweight as concerns within the community. Because of these concerns, CHI St. Alexius Health Carrington was able to apply and successfully receive grant funding for the most recent round of the park upgrades.
“We wouldn’t have been able to do this project without assistance from CHI St. Alexius Health Carrington and their grant writing, and the CHI Mission and Ministry Fund,” comments Foster County Auditor Brad Solberg.
Along with a park’s positive impact on obesity and being overweight, the Healthy People 2020 approach to social determinants of health and other studies show the value of parks to include: cost savings to residents as they use free parkland, saving them from purchasing those items; and, health benefits such as savings in medical costs due to the beneficial aspects of exercise in the parks.
“There is also the community cohesion benefit of people banding together to not only save and improve their neighborhood parks, but then using those parks together,” says Nicole Threadgold, Foundation Director and grant writer for CHI St. Alexius Health Carrington. “This helps ward off antisocial problems that could otherwise cost cities more in police and fire protection, prisons, counseling, and rehabilitation.”
“With all the bright colors, our park really stands out now,” says County Commissioner Becky Hagel. “It has been so fun to see families playing there because the park was not used much before.”
“We can’t thank CHI St. Alexius Health Carrington enough for the grants that made this possible,” Hagel continues. “Also, thank you to the County staff who helped construct it, Nate Monson, Lonnie Hoffman, Aaron Johnson, Craig Wiese and Russ Heidt (the original piece). We appreciate Grondahl Recreation, too, who was so patient with Nicole Threadgold and I trying to decide between all the fun park pieces.”
The idea for improvements began in January 2018 with the opportunity for CHI St. Alexius Health Carrington to apply for a different grant that would improve wellness opportunities in their service area. The facility and County began talks of what it would take to make the park improvements. With the goal of beginning with one key piece of park equipment, both the facility and county began working on grants. The Carrington Kiwanis group led a grocery store giveaway fundraiser and later joined in a friendly fair competition between the Kiwanis and Lions Clubs, all to benefit the project.
Altogether, grants from Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota Caring Foundation, Garrison Diversion, Carrington Community Endowment Fund, Carrington Community Development Corporation plus fundraisers by the Carrington Kiwanis and Lions Clubs totaled just over $25,000 for the first piece of equipment, wood fiber, borders and installation. The first piece of new equipment was installed and open for play in late summer of 2019. With the successful raising of funds for the first piece of equipment, CHI St. Alexius Health Carrington and Foster County knew more equipment was needed to continue improving the park and replace the rest of the outdated equipment that had been taken down. CHI St. Alexius Health Carrington then successfully applied to the CHI Mission and Ministry Fund for funding of phase two of park improvements.
During the past 23 years, the CHI Mission and Ministry Fund has awarded 554 grants totaling more than $90 million. The fund is a hallmark of CHI’s Spirit of Innovation and dedication to creating healthier communities and is one of the most visible ways CHI lives the vision of its foundresses.
The community of Carrington has also benefitted from the CHI Mission and Ministry Fund through 3 years of grant funding for the Backpack Program run through Carrington’s Daily Bread and the Carrington School District. The three years of grant funding, which concluded with the end of the 2020 school year, allowed Carrington’s Daily Bread to continue building funds and program sustainability for the Backpack Program.
Please note: The Courthouse Park is following the same guidelines set forth by the City Park Board for use of park equipment. While using the new park equipment, please practice social distancing of six feet, and no large groups. Please wash your hands before and after being at the park and bring your own hand sanitizer. If you are feeling sick, please stay home. Feel free to wear a mask and wipe down the equipment as it will not be sanitized. Be kind and respectful of others around you.