KDHE Office of Communications
TOPEKA, Kan. – Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) Secretary Susan Mosier, M.D., MBA, FACS presented the 2016 Kansas Health Champion Awards to the following individuals and organizations at a reception hosted by the Governor’s Council on Fitness on Friday, Dec. 9:
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.
Nikki Allen previously served as Victor Ornelas Elementary School’s Wellness Champion. There, she allowed her passions for health and fitness to come to life by promoting races/walks in the community, starting a running club for Third and Fourth graders, and conducting the ‘Walk your Child to School Day’ at her school. She also helps with the ‘Walking School Bus,’ which is a program that encourages teachers to volunteer to meet students in neighborhoods or by the bus and walk them to school. One of her greatest accomplishments has been to spearhead the construction of a new track for the community. She has raised $44,000 with the help of the Sunflower Foundation, the United Way and many other generous donors to make this a reality for the school. Along with many other accomplishments, Nikki continues to make an impact on health and fitness in the Garden City community.
Chanute Recreation Commission began repurposing a former public golf course when data from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation showed that Neosho County had higher-than-average rates of preventable diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease. With the help of many different individuals and organizations, the public golf course was transformed into a multi-use outdoor facility for all ages. This free-to-the-public facility provides the community with access to 18-hole foot golf and disc golf courses, over six trekking trails up to two miles in length, fitness equipment for adults and play pods for children. The Chanute Recreation Commission has also implemented new programs for the indoor facility, as well. These programs include RecRun, a group of runners that meet weekly, and Coffee Plus, which allows individuals to enjoy leisure time activities and walk together. The Commission has worked to reach all ages of the community, aspiring to see individuals become healthier in their community.
Missty Lechner is the Advocacy Project Director for the Midwest Affiliate of the American Heart Association. Her efforts have led to 18 counties establishing Food and Farm Councils throughout Kansas, with more under development. These councils bring together people in their communities to identify opportunities to enhance access to healthy and locally grown foods. Through these efforts, she is able to help communities provide affordable, nutritious and safe food for all residents in the community. This year, she also coordinated a Tribal Health Summit, which reaches out to the four Native American tribes in Kansas. Her ability to connect with people and bring them together has had a major impact on many initiatives. She has been a valuable partner in the implementation of Workwell Kansas. She is also the Interim Chair of Heartland Healthy Neighborhoods in Topeka.
Highland Community College Wellness Committee has excelled in its efforts to improve the health of employees and the community. The committee implemented a policy for employees to combine breaks to allow for a half hour of paid daily exercise. The Walters Wellness Center personal trainers freely assist community and college members with their exercise needs. The personal trainers also provide classes for people with arthritis. The Wellness Center has made great strides in reaching the older population, as well as reaching families by keeping membership costs affordable. Highland also provides a location for Chronic Disease Self-Management Education Workshops and has been an incredible partner for the NEKES Chronic Disease Risk Reduction Program. Members continue to report decreases in medication use, increases in strength and energy, weight loss and weight management and positive self-awareness. The Highland Community College Wellness Committee will continue to make a huge impact on the health of Northeastern Kansas as it strives to improve the health and wellness in the surrounding community.