Archived Story

Healthy activities abound in Albert Lea

Published 10:05am Monday, June 16, 2014

By Alice Englin and Randy Kehr

The National Vitality Center Leadership Team and the Statewide Health Improvement Program continue to work together to promote healthy choices for all segments of the community. We have had many successes over the past year and are actively involved in supporting on-going activities into the future.

Alice Englin
Alice Englin

Having just completed the third annual Open Streets — a day of play which included the fifth annual Family Bike Rodeo with distribution of free bike helmets (courtesy of Mayo Clinic Health System of Albert Lea and Austin) and a number of other active living activities including the Chamber Worksite Wellness Committee’s Poker Walk — we move into the summer with positive momentum toward improving access to active living and well-being for our youth, adults and seniors. We are pleased to see so many community partners join in these efforts.

For the youth of our community, KATE Radio’s Bikes for Tikes has returned this year.  Albert Lea Radio is working with Wedgewood Cove and Mrs. Gerry’s is collecting bikes for young people who might otherwise not be able to afford one. They are asking that the community donate new or gently used bicycles by bringing them to the Pro Shop at Wedgewood Cove. Last year they collected 60 bikes, and the goal this year is 100. The 2014 Bikes for Tikes giveaway is scheduled for Wedgewood Cove on 3 p.m. Friday with free bike helmets while they last courtesy of SHIP. Contact Amy at 507-402-5906 with questions.

Other activities for our youth include a number of events throughout the summer including the Children’s Center’s Bubble Bash 5K and Carnival on July 19. This is a great opportunity for families to be active together in a fun-filled atmosphere where participants are sprayed with color foam safe for all ages. Additionally, SHIP has scheduled a free swim day at the City Aquatic Center from 1 to 7 p.m. on the same day. New nighttime swim hours at the Aquatic Center from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday will better accommodate the modern family’s lifestyle. For many other great summer activities for the young, consult the Summer Fun Guide on the city’s website under Parks and Recreation.

One last note on the young people of our community, we want to thank everyone for supporting the walk-a-thons for our schools. The administration and the community should be recognized for the positive impact this is making on the young by encouraging full participation in a healthy activity.

Randy Kehr
Randy Kehr

For the adults in Albert Lea and Freeborn County there are many opportunities, as well. Free Sample Saturdays are back through the enthusiastic support of Parks and Recreation. Three of four dates remain on the schedule. Saturday will bring Zumba in the Park, July 12 is Yoga in the Park and July 19 is Meditation in the Park. All events will be at 10 a.m. at the Edgewater Bandshell. In addition, the Moais in Motion are up and running, but it’s not too late to join. Contact Jenny at Parks and Recreation to get more information on how to participate.

For the more active adult, the Riverland Disc Golf Course should be finished this summer thanks to the efforts of the Flying Lea Disc Golf Club and the generous support of the Freeborn County Communities Foundation. This will be the third disc golf course in the community. Also, there will be six pickleball courts available this summer next to the aquatic center thanks to a partnership between the city of Albert Lea and a dedicated group of pickleball enthusiasts.

There is a new program being offered by Senior Resources and SHIP. “Living Well with Chronic Conditions” is a series of six sessions for adults of all ages.  Call Senior Resources at 377-7433 with questions. For those facing challenges with caring for another, a Caregivers Support Group meets the third Thursday of the month at 1:30 and 3 p.m. in the Thorne Crest meeting room. Respite care is available. We also have many fine programs offered to promote physical activity for seniors through Senior Resources, the Senior Center and the Albert Lea Family Y.

We continue to support tobacco cessation activities throughout the community. We enthusiastically applaud the city for its implementation of a tobacco-free campus at City Arena and congratulate Lou-Rich on going tobacco free on Jan. 1. These are just two examples of the many fine institutions that have committed to tobacco-free campuses to create a healthier environment for their employees. The Freeborn County Fair will again have tobacco free kids and senior days. We ask that the community respect those two days and, if you have a T-shirt from previous years, wear it that day. Our desire is to see that our most valuable assets, our youth and our seniors, can enjoy the fair in the best possible environment.

We also anticipate some exciting news to come our way this summer regarding our commitment to making “the healthy choice, the easy choice.” More information will be forthcoming in the coming weeks.


Alice Englin is the Freeborn County SHIP coordinator, and Randy Kehr is the chairman of the National Vitality Center Leadership Team.