The City of Cascade, a rural community in Valley County, puts a premium on community health and provides services and amenities that support it.

“Community health is always a part of the conversation,” Mayor Judith Nissula said.

Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health Senior Program Officer Courtney Frost (left) presents Cascade Mayor Judith Nissula with the Community Health Champion Award on June 20 at the Association of Idaho Cities Annual Conference.

The city has several programs, spaces, and systems that promote community health, which is why Cascade is the recipient of the Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health’s inaugural Community Health Champion Award.

The award comes with a $5,000 grant that can be used for a project or program that promotes community health. The award was announced at the Association of Idaho Cities conference dinner on June 20 at the Boise Centre.

Here are examples of what Cascade is doing to promote community health:

  • Uses a thorough community engagement process that has led to building new trails, park improvements, new sidewalks
  • Updating its comprehensive plan with a focus on seniors aging in place and meeting the needs of ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) families
  • Community Health Workers, a van service, and an active volunteer program help meet the needs of residents
  • The school district operates using the Community Schools Strategy that helps connect students to needed services
  • Family engagement activities are offered by a number of community partners, including the library, Game Changer teen center and Cascade Cultural Arts Center
  • Senior meals and wellness classes, plus computer literacy courses are available

“The City of Cascade takes a holistic approach to community health,” said Courtney Frost, Senior Program Officer, Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health. “The city has partnerships with the public and private sectors to emphasize community health, and they are succeeding in innovative and sustainable fashion.”

The partnerships are a must in a small city such as Cascade, which has about 1,000 residents plus another 1,500 or so people who live outside the city limits but are an important part of the community.

“We have to work together, but we do our own things,” Nissula said. “We group up to make sure we’re not duplicating efforts or stepping on each other’s toes. We can take projects and piece them out. This is the way we get things done.”

Winning the Community Health Champion Award is validation for the city, Nissula said.

“I think it means we’re doing a lot of things right, and they are coming to us naturally,” she said. “We’re not doing them to win an award. We’re doing the right things and will continue to try to do that. We don’t always hit the mark, and we know we can always do better.”

Cascade is located in Valley County along state highway 55.