Crow Wing Energized: Building Healthy Behaviors for Youth

Crosslake Community School students participate in the ReThink Your Drink campaign, which encourages people to swap their sugar-sweetened beverages for water. Submitted photo

Crow Wing Energized, a grassroots health and wellness effort, understands the importance of supporting organizations, strategies and programs that focus on building healthy behaviors in this age group.

There are a number of local initiatives that are happening in this area. Here are highlights from just a few of the initiatives Crow Wing Energized has supported in the past year through grants.

Forestview Middle School staff estimates that 1 in 3 Forestview students qualify for free and reduced lunch. Fuel Up Forestview began over seven years ago to combat the issues of food insecurity within the student population. Due to demand, an entire room at the school was cleared and dedicated to providing students with food, clothing, school supplies, hygiene products and more. Crow Wing Energized was able to provide funding to expand the work that the staff at Forestview were already doing by providing storage and shelving.

When applying for the grant, the Forestview team described it like this:

Our prime role here at Forestview is to educate and better the lives of our students, but often students come to us with social and emotional needs that override our student’s ability to perform at their best.

It is difficult to concentrate and learn when you are hungry, when you are not sure there will be food for dinner, if I can’t complete my homework, because there are no school supplies at home or even enjoy recess with friends when students are not prepared for the cold weather.

Students see and feel the support they are given through the use of the pantry and take responsibility to better their situations for themselves and their family. Students are given pre-packaged backpacks with healthy choices and only allowed to choose 3-4 items of their choice as a treat or a sweet supplement to their backpacks. As student receive their packs, they are coached on foods in the packs and making healthy choices to fuel their bodies.

To see the pride of an 11-year-old wearing a clean Adidas sweatshirt, or to hear the excitement in a child’s voice as he tells you of the delicious dinner of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches his family had last night, makes all the difference in the world. And because of the Forestview pantry and all the amazing things that the staff and community at Forestview do, this difference is being made in the lives of middle school kids every day.

Crosslake Community School is another local school modeling health and wellness among students. This winter, they kicked off a ReThink your Drink campaign for students and staff. ReThink your Drink encouraged people to swap their sugar-sweetened beverages for water. Students and staff were provided water bottles that they could fill up on the school campus and use throughout the school day.

It’s estimated that kids who drink one or more sweetened soft drinks are 60% more likely to be obese.

By educating and encouraging youth to drink more water the hope is they can carry this healthy behavior into adulthood and reduce their risk for preventable diseases associated with obesity.

The Brainerd Family YMCA leveraged grant funds to find a creative way to keep students physically active during the wintery snow-filled months by converting the Kids Bike Fleet into a Winter Adventure trailer. Schools in Crow Wing County are able to reserve the Winter Adventure trailer for students to use to keep kids active during the school day. Not only is physical activity important for physical health, but it’s important for our minds as well. The CDC states that physical activity has a connection to how well students perform academically; students who are physical activity tend to have better grades, school attendance, cognitive performance (ex: memory) and classroom behaviors.

Grant funding assisted Pinehaven Youth and Family Services’ foster home for adolescent males in acquiring a bike fleet this past year. It was important for Pinehaven staff to show youth that there are multiple ways to be physically active, such as riding a bike. Sometimes people forget that physical activity can be fun and purposeful! The bikes are a great example of how multi-functional nonmotorized transportation can be. The bikes can be used for physical activity, recreation and transportation to and from employment.

Crow Wing Energized granted over $56,000 to the community in 2019 for health and wellness initiatives.

We are so proud to partner with organizations who are working diligently to make Crow Wing County a healthy and thriving community!

Would you like to create a community project to encourage healthy activity? Crow Wing Energized community grants are open until March 1, 2020.

Any organization serving or within Crow Wing County can apply for up to $2,000. Applicants are not required to be incorporated 501(c)3 organizations.

To apply, download the grant application at or contact Kalsey Stults, Crow Wing Energized Community Health and Wellness specialist at

[email protected] or 218-828-7343.

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