Monday, December 22, 2014

Help ensure health success for students, your community

4/18/2014

Students of all ages are coming into the home stretch of the school year. Finishing strong is what everyone wants. Unfortunately, some kids aren’t as ready to learn as others because they face a variety of health issues. One in three children is obese or overweight, and that puts them not only at risk in the classroom, but also later in life for health complications and chronic diseases.

One local organization is pulling together people from various organizations to try to turn those health factors around so Franklin County has kids and adults living a more active lifestyle and eating healthfully.

Students of all ages are coming into the home stretch of the school year. Finishing strong is what everyone wants. Unfortunately, some kids aren’t as ready to learn as others because they face a variety of health issues. One in three children is obese or overweight, and that puts them not only at risk in the classroom, but also later in life for health complications and chronic diseases.

One local organization is pulling together people from various organizations to try to turn those health factors around so Franklin County has kids and adults living a more active lifestyle and eating healthfully.

Franklin County Health Policy Council, led by Midge Ransom, Franklin County’s Health Department director, wants to support and inspire longer and healthier lives for all residents. The effort is part of a larger statewide initiative to make long-lasting economic and health impacts by working with community leaders, employers, schools and health care professionals to create health-friendly policies and resources available to the public. Part of that effort includes creation of a website — www.HealthyLivingFrCo.org — as a one-stop shop for health ideas for the public to incorporate into their own lives and daily routines. The website also includes special events residents and others can get involved in to encourage healthy eating and active living.

The policy council has a number of other initiatives underway alongside its many partners including increasing the number of venues with healthful food and beverage choices; enhancement of active living through bicycle/pedestrian community trails, improving access to farmer’s markets, increased nutrition education, creating access to private gardens, enhancing tobacco-free living and many other ideas.

Each of these initiatives is intended to improve Franklin County residents’ quality of life. It is a systematic approach that takes time to develop after defining needs and assessing the adequacy of existing programs and then developing new strategies. Some strategies may work better than others but it is clear that individually-focused methods to control weight haven’t worked so a different strategy is in order.

Be a part of the Healthy Living initiative by participating in the following:

• ECKAN 5K Taking Action Walk/Run — 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Saturday, April 26 at the East Central Kansas Economic Opportunity Corp. office, 1320 S. Ash St. ($20 per person)

• Walk @ Lunch Day — noon to 1 p.m. Wednesday, April 30 on the Prairie Spirit Rail Trail at Kanza Park.

• Ransom 5K Run/Walk — 8 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 23 at Forest Park, 320 N. Locust St. (cost varies based on type of shirt and sign-up date)

Ottawa has plenty of other active pursuits available every day at local fitness facilities, indoor swimming pool, skating rink, disc golf and at playgrounds at local parks and trails, as well as at area lakes.

We want a community of kids who are healthy and ready to learn, whether it’s the beginning, middle or end of the school year. Working together to teach kids the keys to health can ensure their academic success too.

Jeanny Sharp,

editor and publisher

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