Shape Up Shelby

“Shape up Shelby!” is the overarching initiative of Shelby’s health and wellness programs


Shelby is one of many communities throughout Montana that is working hard to increase the health and wellness of their residents. Leadership has been provided by Mayor Larry Bonderud, Marias Medical Center and many others in the community. Shelby uses many techniques to encourage healthy choices. For instance, by making their main street more attractive, residents are making efforts to encourage shoppers to walk, not drive. Shelby’s Safe Routes to School Project also sponsors a “Walk and Wheel Wednesdays” where around one hundred children may be seen walking to school. The class with the most children that walk to school that day earn a free roller skating party at the Shelby Recreation Center.

Many years ago, Shelby started gathering funds to renovate an old civic center, allowing the residents to now enjoy two cardio rooms and a weight room. Over the last three years, a recreation director has been hired to coordinate cardio and strength classes along with personal training sessions. The director also organizes annual runs such as Shelby’s hosted first annual Family Walk Run or Bike for Breast Cancer hosted in 2008. At the event, there were 55 registered walkers and runners.  It was a sunny, but chilly day and everyone seemed to enjoy the Roadrunner Recreation Trail.

Shelby used Nutrition and Physical Activity (NAPA)’s funding to focus in three specific areas: increase physical activity; increase the rate of breastfeeding infants; to encourage a “caloric balance”; and to increase fruit and vegetable consumption. Shelby’s long-term projects are listed below:
Healthy Food Choices:
A graduate student, who was supported by NAPA and Shelby, used the Nutrition and Environment Measures Survey (NEMS) to determine how easily healthy foods could be acquired. The survey found the availability of healthy foods to be very limited especially in local restaurants. Shelby is now working with restaurants and food distributors to include healthier choices on their menu. Once the healthy alternatives are added to the menus, Shelby hopes to launch a promotional campaign to encourage residents to choose the healthier items.
Increased use of the Walking Trail:
Shelby created a paved six-mile walking/rolling trail. The idea for the trail came from the residents of Shelby. Shelby’s residents wanted a fun, clean, and safe route to encourage walking and biking in the community. Once the trail was made, Shelby started making efforts to increase the trail’s use. Shelby conducted four triad interviews with children ages nine through twelve, and two triad interviews with parents of children eight years old and under. During the interviews, participants were asked to list both good and bad things associated with trail use. With the feedback received from the participants, NAPA teamed up with social marketing experts at the Academy of Educational development to create messages minimizing the community’s fear of trail use and emphasizing the benefits of trail use.
Support of Breastfeeding:
Each year about 50 births occur at the Marias Medical Center. Shelby has now teamed up with NAPA, the Marias Medical Center, and the Toole County Health Department to collect baseline data on breastfeeding. In the past, the county public health nurse makes a call to each new mother offering to share information and resources. The nurse now asks the mother questions about breastfeeding and enters the information in an online database. The county public nurse will repeat these calls quarterly to get long-term information about the frequency of breastfeeding in Shelby. This data can then be used to determine the best intervention to increase the prevalence of breast feeding.
Shape Up Shelby!  
“Shape up Shelby!” is the overarching initiative of Shelby’s health and wellness programs. Shelby has teamed up with Marias Medical Center to collect baseline data for 300 children and 650 adults. The data will include physical and obesity related behavior indicators. The measures will be repeated in two years. The data collected will be used to help determine the influences of the current initiatives, and establish future initiatives to increase the overall health and wellness of Shelby’s residents.
To read an article about Shelby from Northwest Public Health, click here