In March, the 2013 Kansas County Health Rankings were announced. Barton County fell in the middle of the pack. The rankings describe the current health status of a county and are influenced by health factors, such as high school graduation rates, obesity, smoking, and family and social support. Counties can improve their health outcomes by addressing health factors.
Enter the Barton County Health Community Design Leadership Team, known as Be Well Barton County. The group is a branch of the much larger Central Kansas Partnership, a broad coalition made up of concerned citizens from Barton, Pawnee, Rice, Stafford and Rice counties that tackles such weighty topics as substance abuse, risky behaviors and other health-related areas.
Why is this germane now?
There was a conference in Wichita last week. It was a gathering sponsored by the Kansas Health Foundation for communities across the state that have qualified for grants aimed at promoting healthy lifestyles. Barton County is one of the recipients.
Three local representatives from Be Well attended the three-day gathering. Those present listened to presenters offer suggestions and strategies to promote exercise, encourage the consumption of healthful food, and discourage smoking and other dangerous choices. Participants also walked and biked the streets of Wichita.
There was talk of the obesity trends in the United States and Kansas. The theme was changing the unhealthy culture that is so prevalent in this country.
Such meetings are great to energize folks to go home and get involved. Now, it is up to Be Well Barton County to keep the flame alive.
These issues not only influence the health of individuals, they also impact the health of our communities.
Through improved access to safe walking and bicycling options, towns and cities of all sizes become more attractive for young families looking to relocate.
It is a win-win for everyone. These are efforts worthy of our support.