October 8, 2014

KDHE Office of Communications, 785-296-0461

Lt. Governor Recognizes 2014 Kansas Health Champions

Council on Fitness convenes 3rd Annual Obesity Summit

MANHATTAN— 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:

“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.

Health Champions
Karla Stenzel is the physical education teacher at College Hill Elementary School and physical education curriculum coach for Wichita Public School’s physical education teachers. She promotes a healthy, active lifestyle beyond her teaching duties in many ways. Karla serves as the director of College Hill School Age Program, which provides an opportunity for students to learn and be active before and after school and during the summer. Serving as a part-time learning coach, she provides ideas and support to other physical educators in the district. Stenzel’s many other examples of promoting physical activity and being a positive role model to students and teachers alike include supporting the “Let’s Move! Active Schools” program in Wichita schools; helping coordinate the Wichita Kansas Kids Fitness Day Event, which involves 2,900 third grade students and more than 300 high school students; helping facilitate the Fresh Fruits and Veggies program; and serving on the Health and Wellness Coalition of Wichita.

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.

The Kansas Health Foundation is a health philanthropy with the mission: To improve the health of all Kansans. A number of KHF’s key initiatives fall within its Healthy Living focus area, which seeks to improve health by increasing physical activity, improving nutrition and decreasing tobacco use among Kansans. These initiatives not only engage a variety of stakeholders in this important work, but provide needed financial resources to stimulate the kind of broad cultural change that is needed to increase physical activity. Many people may be aware of these initiatives, but may not know it has also implemented policies internally to support a healthy work and meeting environment. An afternoon break for all employees gets everyone up and out of their offices; music sets an upbeat mood. The foundation was the first Kansas philanthropy to adopt food and beverage policies for all meetings and snacks. This influence goes far beyond the foundation since it hosts many meetings throughout the year. The Kansas Health Foundation truly serves as an organizational model of health and fitness.

Honorable Mentions
Ellen Young made a lifestyle change through walking and a healthier diet 20 years ago. That grew into a passion for running and fitness, then a dedication to sharing her passion with others, which she has done for many years. Early in the morning, you will find Young volunteering at Dog Days, a free community fitness program, where she has been checking in participants for at least 10 years. She organized the first Red Dog run, a fundraising event benefitting the local Boys and Girls Club that continues to this day. After work in the evenings or on weekends, you will usually find her volunteering on behalf of a charity or race  or coordinating a run for the women’s running group she founded, Running for the Hill of It. Young’s selfless dedication and practical encouragement have made her a loved and respected member of the Lawrence running and fitness community.

Standard Motor Products (SMP) implemented a walking program to promote physical wellness and a healthier lifestyle for their employees. “Walk for a Day Off” encourages employees to increase their level of physical activity by walking on a designated track the company created inside the plant. An outdoor trail is also currently under development. After completing 30 laps, employees are given a pedometer and encouraged to walk a predetermined number of miles in the quarter, which gets progressively higher each quarter. Each employee completing the quarterly mileage is eligible to win prizes ranging from gift cards to fitness equipment to a day off with pay. To complement the walking program, a healthy eating guide has been made available to all company employees. SMP’s commitment to fitness has resulted in employees eating healthier foods and exercising more frequently and regularly.