City staff and a UI doctor stand in front of a UI Health Clinic.
From left to right: Ryan Krastoska and Brad Barker, Parks and Recreation, Dr. Meredith Fishbane-Gordon, Tracy Hightshoe, Neighborhood and Development Services.

The City of Iowa City is working with the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital and College of Public Health to improve the health of Iowa City’s youngest residents.   

A new collaboration, called Community Prescriptions, was formed to develop ways to increase activity in young children ages 2 to 12, while also getting kids outdoors and using their neighborhood parks and trails. 

In August, 350 Hit the Ground Fitness kits were assembled by City staff and provided to University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital pediatricians at their Scott Boulevard Clinic. These kits will be given to young patients in Iowa City who are at increased risk of hypertension, diabetes and obesity, and who also have Medicaid or Hawk-I insurance. 

The pediatricians will distribute kits to their patients and patients at other UI Health Care clinics serving Iowa City residents.

A bag with items such as a frisbee, chalk, jump rope, maps of parks, and more is shown.

The activity kits included:

  • Maps of neighborhoods with parks and trails identifying distances to walk and the amenities of each park
  • Toys like frisbees, card games encouraging movement, sidewalk chalk, jump ropes
  • yoga cards
  • A scavenger hunt
  • A marathon tracker with suggested physical activities. Children can present completed trackers at one of the City's recreation centers for 10 free one-day swim passes

In addition, the pediatricians will also write Prescriptions for Play to children eligible for discounts for Parks and Recreation activities. The City committed $1,000 of Invest Health funding to cover the costs remaining after the discount.

The kits were made possible by grant funding from Invest Health -a project of the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation and Reinvestment Fund- and product donations from Sanford Health. 

The pediatricians will have the children who receive a kit come back for follow-up care. Surveys will indicate if the child increased their activity level and what changes to the activity kits could be made to increase or sustain activity.

The collaboration is a new way to demonstrate how health professionals and City departments can work together to improve children's health using amenities and services already available in our neighborhoods.

Date of publication

Wednesday, October 09, 2019