In just a few short weeks, the Gaukler Family Wellness, Health and Physical Education Center will be opening in Valley City. Members of both the Valley City State University and Valley City communities will be able to use the 65,000 square-foot wellness center upon its scheduled opening date of Oct. 1. Located east of Osmon Fieldhouse on the VCSU campus, the facility will feature a fitness center, swimming pool, multi-use court space, an indoor playground and gathering spaces.
Because the wellness center is intended to benefit everyone in the community, the Community Wellness for All Program was created by the Sheyenne Valley Community Foundation. The John Deere Foundation provided the initial money to begin the program and has made a generous commitment totaling $100,000 to sustain the program over the next three years. Funds from the Valley City Kiwanis Club, Essentia Health and a Mission Grant through CHI Mercy Health and a $50,000 donation from a private donor have also been accepted to grow this program. The Community Wellness For All Program provides the opportunity for low-income youth and individuals to participate in programs and services offered through Valley City Parks and Recreation for free or reduced cost. It was important to Valley City Parks and Recreation and those working on the project to ensure that everyone had access to quality health and wellness programs, especially those who do not have funds to dedicate toward membership. This is an attempt to help reduce the negative statistics on childhood obesity and increase the number of physical activities to those most at risk.
After the commencement of Valley City Parks and Recreation summer activities in 2016, the program reports that they served 72 families (up from 64 families in 2015), with 298 summer programs accessed, in comparison to 203 in the summer of 2015. The program also pays for Summer Track, which averages 38 children per night and runs for eight weeks. Next year’s participation is expected to grow with the addition of fitness center membership vouchers.
Kasowski is chair of the the IDEAS (Issues, Development, Engagement and Strategies) Group of Valley City, a group that promotes the Barnes County area.