The Dakota County Board of Commissioners presented Public Health Achievement Awards to three recipients at its Board meeting Tuesday, April 7, as part of National Public Health Week.
Samantha Kent, a senior at Hastings High School; Mary Ellen Fox, health services coordinator for the Hastings School District; and the South St. Paul Mayor’s Youth Task Force were recognized for their efforts to build and sustain healthy families and communities in Dakota County.
Kent was recognized in the “youth” category for a range of accomplishments, including organizing a drive that quadrupled donations of hygiene products to support women at Lewis House, a shelter for victims of domestic violence. She also helped organize a Healthy Relationships Campaign that raised awareness about teen dating violence and abuse.
Fox, who was awarded in the “individual” category, has played an integral role as chair of the Hastings chapter of the Smart Choices Wellness Committee, which seeks to improve the health and academic performance of students by promoting better nutrition and increased physical activity. Over the past five years, she has improved the district-wide wellness policy, and has spearheaded strategies to make recess more active and engaging and to integrate physical activity and academics to increase student learning.
The South St. Paul Mayor’s Youth Task Force, recipient of the “community group” award, was established in 2008. The Youth Task Force, which is open to students in 5th through 12th grade, provides opportunities for leadership development, teaching teens how to engage and collaborate with local businesses and community organizations. The Task Force has helped organize and promote the South St. Paul Community Food Drive, raising awareness of the need for donated food through videos and presentations at schools, businesses, and council meetings.
The Dakota County Board established the Public Health Achievement Awards in March 2000 to recognize and honor the contributions of Dakota County residents who devote their time, energy and talents to creating a healthy future for their fellow county residents.