A proposal submitted by the Jackson In Action
Coalition to purchase nearly a dozen pairs of snowshoes and poles to launch a
new snowshoe checkout program has been selected to receive this month’s
AARP Wisconsin “Small Dollar, Big Impact” grant.
The timing of the $1,000 grant works perfect for the coalition – based in Black
River Falls – because it is gearing up for a Snowshoe Winter Fest event this
February, which will include a candlelight snowshoe event. In addition, the county
has numerous parks and trails that can be used year-round for outdoor activities
such as snowshoeing.
Dawn Jacobson, a Public Health Specialist for the Jackson County Department
of Health & Human Services, said the grant “will allow us a great opportunity to
get started. If successful, we will raise funds to purchase additional snowshoes
next year to expand the checkout program to more communities in our county.”
AARP Wisconsin is awarding one grant each month throughout 2022 to projects
across the state that are designed to improve communities and make them better
places for everyone to live, work and play as they age. Judges selected this
project after reviewing dozens of proposals submitted from all over Wisconsin.
“These grants are exactly what the name describes – short-term, low-cost
solutions that could have a remarkable impact on the shaping of local
communities,” said Amber Miller, Associate State Director of Community
Outreach for AARP Wisconsin. “This project hits the nail right on the head.”
The Jackson in Action Coalition was created to promote active living and healthy
eating in Jackson County. “In recent years we have created several snowshoe
events for our local residents,” Jacobson said. “We sponsor an annual Triple
Snowshoe Challenge, with a snowshoe trail marked at a local park/trail over
three different weekends.”
The coalition’s plan is to use the grant money to purchase 11 pairs of snowshoes
(mix of adult and youth sizes) with matching poles that will be available for
residents to checkout at no cost at the Lunda Community Center, 405 Hwy. 54, in
Black River Falls. A membership to the Lunda Community Center is not needed.
Any resident of Jackson County will be able to use the snowshoes for free,
thanks to the partnership with AARP.
“This will help expand equity and access to snowshoeing to all members of our
community, aiming at those who cannot afford snowshoes, as well as those who
would like to try them out prior to purchasing their own,” Jacobson said.
“We initially would like to pilot this program in Black River Falls, the largest of our
communities. If the pilot is successful, in the future we’d like to purchase
snowshoes for check-out at the smaller municipalities of our county,” she said.
Jackson in Action is a community coalition with representatives from a wide array
of organizations in the county. It was founded in 2011 after Jackson County
ranked extremely low in the county health rankings for the state of Wisconsin.
“We have gradually expanded our efforts to promote physical activity and healthy
living throughout our community. All of the events we host are free or very low-
cost, to remove cost as a barrier to participation,” Jacobson said.
A few examples of their physical activity events include a Pace and Pedal
Duathlon and 5K Color Fun Run/Walk each spring, a Laces to Leaders youth
running and leadership program, a Fall Hike Series, the Gobbler Giveback
Thanksgiving Day 5K, which raises money for local non-profit organizations, and
the snowshoe events.
“A focus of our coalition is to make physical activity accessible to all by removing
barriers to participation. A free snowshoe checkout program fits exactly into this
mission, by allowing us to promote snowshoeing without any expense to
everyone. We have many local trails to be explored. This is a chance for us to
help our residents find a new way to be active in the cold winter months.”
Jacobson said she and the coalition are “extremely grateful that we were able to
get this loan from AARP Wisconsin in order to get this project off the ground.” For
more information on upcoming snowshoe events and other programs offered by
the coalition, visit http://www.jacksoninaction.org
AARP Wisconsin’s launched its “Small Dollar, Big Impact” grant program in 2020
and is now in its third year of helping proposed projects move forward in rural
and urban parts of the state.
The grant program is open to some nonprofits and government entities.