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Be Well Barton County strives to paint picture of health
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The hike and bike path and trails that follow the flood control project around Great Bend is an example of a built environment that can help promote a healthy lifestyle. Be Well Barton County is circulating a survey asking respondents to let them know how they utilize existing community assets and what they would like to see in the future. - photo by Veronica Coons

Be Well Barton County is a subgroup of the Central Kansas Partnership.  The group began meeting in January after the Golden Belt Community Foundation received a grant to study and gather community input from around the county about what people think will promote healthier lifestyles where they live.  

“We hope to increase interest and awareness of how important it is to have a healthy built environment that promotes physical activity in Barton County,” said Lynette Lacy, a consultant with KL Connections and a member of the BWBC leadership committee.  

Built environment includes things like buildings, roads and parks, as well as other human-made structures that affect the health of people living in an area in several ways.  BWBC would like to know what the people who live in Barton County think of their built environment now, and what they would like to see in the future.

“Basically, we’d like people to paint us a picture,” Donna Krug, Barton County Extension agent said.  “If price were no object, what would our towns look like if they were to encourage healthy living?  We want people to think about places they’ve lived or visited, and what worked really well there, and what it would take for them to increase their activity and adopt healthier habits.”

This could include access to recreational facilities, improved facilities at parks, sidewalk improvements, or even better lighting.  It can mean better access to healthy foods, from farmers markets, grocery stores or restaurants.  It can even include community gardens.  

Krug mentioned bike paths have come up too.

“Several of the members of the committee are avid bicyclists, so we naturally would like to see more and better bike paths and more bike racks around town,” she said.  “But we recognize that most people are not avid bicyclists.  That’s why we really need their feedback.”   

Committee members have presented programs to area community and church groups and passed out fliers with the survey, but as of this week, have only received 35 completed responses.  USD 428 Assistant Superintendent Dan Brungardt developed an online version of the survey which will be available at  The group is requesting all responses be turned in by September 4.

“We’re concerned that we are only getting responses from a narrow segment of the community,” Krug said.  “We need to get feedback from families too.  We want a wide variety of responses from a wide variety of people.”

Mercedes Helms has volunteered to translate the survey into Spanish and encourage members of the Hispanic community to send in their responses also, Krug said.  
Change won’t happen overnight, Krug cautioned.  

“This is just the first step,” she said.  “Once we have a master plan, we’ll be able to use it when we apply for grants, and we’ll refer back to it over the next several years as we try to implement the vision our people paint for us now.”