Skip to main content

Hoonah Fun and Fit Partnership

Summary 
  • Need: Rural Alaskans are significantly more likely to be obese compared to the rest of the state.
  • Intervention: The rural community of Hoonah, AK, is creating more opportunities for participation in physical activities and community engagement through Hoonah Fun and Fit Partnership.
  • Results: Healthier school menus and various fitness options are being encouraged throughout the community. Community members have reported healthier lifestyles and higher levels of physical activity.

Description

Hoonah Fun and Fit Partnership was created to address the need for physical activities and community engagement in rural southeast Alaska. Rural Alaskans are significantly more likely to be obese compared to the rest of the state. Furthermore, the rural community of Hoonah found that 27% of its student population was overweight and 18% was obese.

Community members including school district representatives, the Hoonah Indian Association, and the local healthcare clinic employees rallied together and used The Community Guide to select interventions that would increase access to recreational activities, promote nutrition, and heighten obesity awareness.

Services offered

Interventions included:

  • Promotion of physical activity through community-wide campaigns
  • Informational outreach activities paired with greater access to places with a physical activity component
  • Community-based social support interventions
  • Improved school-based physical education
  • Nutritional and physical activity promotion through school-based programs
  • Yearly presentation to Board of Education regarding the Hoonah City School District Wellness Policy (Hoonah Fun and Fit Partnership is the board's official advisory group)

To aid in implementing these interventions, Hoonah Fun and Fit Partnership has established partnerships with:

Results

Within one year of this partnership taking root in Hoonah, the following additions and changes were made within the community:

  • Nutrition promotion in the school district
    • Locally caught fish was added to the school lunch menu
    • School-based vegetable gardens were encouraged
    • Menus were strictly evaluated for sodium content, caloric count, and fruit and vegetable quotas
  • Open Gym hours at the City of Hoonah Gym
  • Raven-Eagle Walking Challenge competition
  • Free Saturday Open Gym for kids 19-under
  • Implementation of a national program called “Girls on the Run” that encourages girls to develop healthy habits through running
  • Operation and maintenance of pool/gym complex transferred from school to City of Hoonah
  • Community ice skating and cross-country skiing activities
  • Promotion of walking and biking trail use

Other events that have been hosted by the Hoonah Fun and Fit Partnership include:

  • Family Health and Fitness Fair
  • Free health screenings
  • Ping Pong tournaments for youth and adults

This partnership has hosted community health education sessions and health fairs on a variety of topics, including:

  • Healthy eating on a budget
  • Stretching food dollars
  • Cottage Food information
  • Traditional foods collection and processing
  • Cooking with wild foods
  • Healthier concession stand offerings
  • Obesity information in Alaska
  • Tobacco use cessation
  • Safe Routes to School information
  • Breastfeeding and healthy food choices from birth onward

The partnership has been fundraising since 2014 to refurbish the elementary school playground and hopes to add more active equipment like swings and slides next school year. Hoonah City Schools offer their students a salad bar multiple times per week, and elementary schools serve healthy snacks with "unusual" fruits and vegetables when available. A four-year state community grant provides free breakfast and lunch to all students in preschool through 12th grade.

The tribe supervises a community garden, and the Hoonah Indian Association Environmental department worked with the schools on a mobile greenhouse. Hoonah's City Council approved the move to make a local park tobacco-free.

Community members have reported healthier lifestyles and higher levels of physical activity, and a neighboring village has been influenced to start a similar program in order to combat obesity within the community.

Contact Information

Sally Dybdahl, Community Director
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hoonah, Alaska
907.945.3600
sally.dybdahl@bbbsak.org

Topics
Community engagement and volunteerism
Food security and nutrition
Obesity and weight control
Physical activity
Schools

States served
Alaska

Date added
February 10, 2016

Date updated or reviewed
February 21, 2018


Please contact the models and innovations contact directly for the most complete and current information about this program. Summaries of models and innovations are provided by RHIhub for your convenience. The programs described are not endorsed by RHIhub or by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy. Each rural community should consider whether a particular project or approach is a good match for their community’s needs and capacity. While it is sometimes possible to adapt program components to match your resources, keep in mind that changes to the program design may impact results.