It was a modest improvement, but it was an improvement.
Barton County rose to the 73rd spot in the 2016 county health rankings released last week by the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation. This is a jump from 2015 when it fell in at 86th.
“We have improved, not leaps and bounds, but we are making our way in the right direction,” said Barton County Health Director Shelly Schneider. There are still serious issues that confront the county, such as high smoking and obesity rates, and high incidents of premature death.
In 2014, Barton County was ranked 68th, which was about normal for the county. But it plunged to 86th in 2015. The latest numbers show efforts being taken increase physical activity and access to exercise opportunities, as well as programs aimed at the other trouble spots are starting to work.
It’s not rocket science. The healthier the lifestyles of Barton County residents, the healthier the county.
And more steps are being taken.
Monday night, the Great Bend City Council endorsed the Be Well Barton County bicycle/pedestrian master plan which plans a progressive road map towards more active transportation options. This follows the Barton County Commission’s and Ellinwood City Council’s support of the plan.
The Great Bend council Monday also voted to support the installation of bike racks sponsored by the Barton County Young Professionals group.
But, it’s going to take more than governments and agencies supporting policies. “Everyone needs to get involved. People out on the streets that have a passion for something need to step up and to make a difference,” Schneider said.
“That’s what’s going to take us from 73 into the 60s next year,” Schneider said. “I think we need to make jumps by 10s to get where we want to be as a county.”
With continued visionary leadership from our elected officials and dedicated groups like Be Well Barton County and the Young Professionals we will make it where we want to go.