Thrive Allen County is the 2014 Kansas Organizational Health Champion

Each year, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment presents the Kansas Health Champion Awards to individuals and organizations that put forth an exceptional effort to model, encourage, and promote fitness in Kansas.

For 2014, Thrive Allen County was awarded the top honor, designated as the 2014 Kansas Organizational Health Champion during the third annual Kansas Obesity Summit.

“This award represents the collective efforts of so many across Allen County, and it reflects what we can do when we develop a common vision and work together to make that vision a reality,” said Thrive Allen County Executive Director, David Toland.

According to a press release from KDHE:

Kansas Lieutenant Governor Jeff Colyer, M.D., presented the 2014 Kansas Health Champion Awards to the following individuals and organizations today during the third annual Kansas Obesity Summit:

  • Individual Health Champion: Karla Stenzel (Wichita)
  • Organizational Health Champion: Thrive Allen County (Iola)
  • Partner Health Champion: Kansas Health Foundation (Wichita)
  • Individual Honorable Mention: Ellen Young (Lawrence)
  • Organizational Honorable Mention: Standard Motor Products (Independence)

“Congratulations to our 2014 Health Champion Award winners. I recognize them today for their exemplary efforts to improve the health of their communities,” said Kansas Lieutenant Governor Jeff Colyer, M.D.,. “It was also an honor to participate with the Council on Fitness in our third annual summit on obesity. Yes, much work is needed to reduce the obesity rate in Kansas, but I’m confident we can achieve our goals for a healthy Kansas through this continued collaboration.”

The Health Champion Award was developed by the Governor’s Council on Fitness to recognize and promote exemplary contributions to fitness in Kansas. Eligible nominees include volunteers, schools, communities, employers, media organizations and policy makers that put forth exceptional efforts to model, encourage and promote fitness in Kansas.

The Governor’s Council on Fitness presents the awards during its annual Obesity Summit, which provides practical ways to increase opportunities for physical activity and access to healthy foods, and then engages summit participants in determining action steps for their communities.

Thrive Allen County has aggressively worked toward its goal of making Allen County the healthiest rural county in Kansas by promoting healthy, active lifestyles. Under Thrive’s leadership, the county’s health ranking has improved from 94th (out of 105 Kansas counties) in 2010 to 79th in 2014. Its wide-ranging accomplishments in modeling, encouraging and promoting fitness are numerous. Thrive’s The Movement program provides healthy cooking classes, yoga instruction, weekly walks, group runs and bicycle rides, which engages county residents to integrate healthy and active living into their daily lives. Thrive has been instrumental in Allen County adding nearly 20 miles of walking and biking trails in the last five years, and it has provided vision and leadership in improving bicycle and walking conditions in the county. It has organized the largest 5K run in southeast Kansas, and Thrive is currently hosting local participation in National Bike Challenge, which in its first year is ranked the top county in the state and is in the top 5 in the nation. Community design initiatives such as pedestrian improvements, signed bike routes, and bicycle “sharrows” are now part of the county’s infrastructure, promoting physical activity for years to come.

These are the Kansas Health Champions for 2014:

Kansas Health Champions 2014

Thrive Allen County representatives accept the Kansas Health Champion award, along with Kansas Lieutenant Governor Jeff Colyer (left) and Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary Robert Moser (right):

Thrive Health Champions

Thrive Allen County Executive Director David Toland addresses the Kansas Obesity Summit:

David Toland

Kansas Health Champion Plaque 2014:

Kansas Health Champion Plaque 2014

The Iola Register has additional information about the honor, in Thrive wins state award:

Thrive Allen County’s long-standing goal — to help produce a healthier, more productive citizenry — has been recognized by the state.

Thrive representatives were on hand Wednesday to receive one of five 2014 Kansas Health Champion Awards during the third annual Kansas Obesity Summit.

The Health Champion Award was developed by the Governor’s Council on Fitness through its Get Active Kansas Campaign.
It was designed to single out groups or individuals who “recognize and promote exemplary contributions to fitness in Kansas,” according to a Kansas Department of Health and Environment press release.

The proverbial feather in the cap brings more than a trophy. As the 2014 Organizational Health Champion, Thrive will receive a four-year, $600,000 KDHE grant.

It’s the largest grant in Thrive’s history, noted Damaris Kunkler, Thrive’s program director.

The award was particularly gratifying, Kunkler said, because the Kansas Department of Health and Environment notified Thrive about the Health Champions program.

“They reached out to us,” she said. “I think the state recognized what we do here.”

The KDHE grant comes from the Centers For Disease Control and will help Thrive fund even more activities and provide more health education materials in the future.

Thank you to The KDHE, the Governor’s Council on Fitness, and Get Active Kansas for this award!