A 10-week challenge could be a New Year's resolution toward a healthier lifestyle for Le Mars residents.
John Stevens, outreach coordinator for the Live Healthy Iowa program travels the state to promote the program designed to bring together friends, families and businesses to improve health.
"I'm on a five-year mission to work with the governor to make Iowa the healthiest state in America," Stevens told the Le Mars City Council Tuesday.
He said chronic illness is the No. 1 issue in America.
"I'm so thankful your county and your city are being proactive -- you have a wellness coalition led by (Floyd Valley Hospital's) community health department, the YMCA, Hy-Vee and a lot of folks involved," Stevens said.
He used a statistic from the Centers for Disease Control to explain the need for a local wellness effort.
In Iowa, one-third of pre-schoolers ages 3-5, one-half of kindergarten through 12th graders and two-thirds of adults are overweight and or obese, Stevens said.
Locally, Plymouth County is in the bottom half of Iowa counties not doing well on healthy lifestyle issues, he said.
"You're below the state average when it comes to inactivity, obesity and chronic illnesses," Stevens said.
He gave the council information about a program used by the Live Healthy Iowa program of the Iowa Sports Foundation to help people make changes in lifestyles.
The 10-week Wellness Challenge is a competition-based program bringing together teams, each with 2-10 members, to track activity and weight loss, beginning Jan. 28.
Stevens asked the city council to be leaders in the healthier lifestyle effort.
"Think about the people you love, your family, your friends, think about being a captain of a team yourself and forming teams," he told the council Tuesday.
He said a goal had been set by Live Healthy Iowa to have at least 10 percent of the county participate in the 10-week challenge from January to April to improve health.
Live Healthy Iowa tracks participation on a county basis.
The county's last participation had been 1 percent in 2010, Stevens said.
"Last year we had counties who had 1 percent just like you -- they went from 1 percent to 10 percent.
City Administrator Scott Langel said he thought the city should take a pro-active role in theprogram.
Le Mars YMCA executive director Todd Lancaster said the program had Le Mars participants for 10 years.
However, he said the most recent year of participation, 2010, was not successful because people didn't do anything after signing up.
"Scott and I and John (Stevens) talked; I've already set up a group for the city of Le Mars online," Lancaster said at the council meeting.
Langel said Lancaster could not be the lone captain of teams joining the 10-week challenge.
"We need to support what he is doing through this program and, as John mentioned, I think we all need to take ownership of it and be active," Langel said.
He offered to work with the council in the days and weeks ahead to get greater city involvement to assist Lancaster with participation from individuals and groups in the city.
People who are interested in participating in the 10-week challenge will find more information at www.livehealthyiowa.org, or by contacting Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, Iowa Department of Public Health or Iowa Sports Foundation.
While in Le Mars Tuesday, Stevens made similar Live Healthy Iowa presentations at Plymouth County Board of Supervisors and Plymouth County Health Planning Committee meetings.