Bee Well is ready for their next big project

100 Women Who Care make donation for outdoor exercise space


The productivity of Bee Well of Edgar County keeps rolling along.

An idea to create an outdoor exercise space in the vicinity of the Splash Pad and All-Abilities Playground at Twin Lakes Park just got a big boost. Mary Liz Wright announced at the Thursday, Sept. 5, Bee Well meeting that 100 Women Who Care of Edgar County is contributing to make the idea a reality.

Locating the equipment near the popular playgrounds is seen as a way to offer exercise opportunities to parents instead of just sitting on benches while watching their children. As the children play, parents can get some time on elliptical machines and other exercise equipment designed for the rigors of outdoor use.

“This is big. Let’s do this,” Wright said.

With funding in place, Bee Well can more fully develop the idea. The first step is working with the Paris Park Board to site the facility.

Other tasks include reviewing the type of equipment available and seeking input from the Horizon Health physical therapy department regarding which equipment offers the best exercise potential. Part of that research will include contacting facilities that have outdoor exercise pavilions for an assessment of what pieces get used the most.

Warren Sperry of the Edgar County Foundation saw this as an opportunity to engage in fundraising to double the initial gift from 100 Women Who Care in order to create an outstanding exercise space.

The gift is a morale boost for Bee Well as affirmation the group’s efforts to make Edgar County a healthier place to live is gaining inroads with the community. Bee Well organized a few years ago when medical, business and community leaders grew concerned after two independent studies ranked Edgar County among the unhealthiest places to live in Illinois. Part of that finding was based on the high obesity rate and related problems of heart disease and diabetes in the county.

“It’s changing the culture from the grassroots level,” Sperry said about Bee Well’s efforts.

The gift from the 100 Women Who Care builds on other successes Bee Well has enjoyed this year. The Circle K convenience stores partnered with Bee Well to promote purchasing water in Polar Pop containers as a healthier alternative to filling the giant cups with sugar-laden soft drinks.

Wright said managers at the two stores have told her a noticeable number of customers are taking advantage of the healthier choice.

An effort to promote heart-healthy options on the menus of local restaurants is about complete. Dietician Kara Wilcoxen has reviewed the menus of participating restaurants and made the selections that will get marked with a sticker showing the Bee Well logo.

“There were some really good options,” Wilcoxen said, adding some menus were more difficult than others to find a healthy choice.

Bee Well did have a setback when circumstances prevented getting a new site for the Paris community garden in place for this growing season. Plans are underway to get one back for 2020.

Bee Well has helped establish community gardens in Paris, Kansas and Hume, and Wright had encouraging news about a possible new location. She said a new Master Gardener in Chrisman wants to establish a community garden in that community.