Heartland Healthy Neighborhood
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“Actively promoting neighborhood well-being by mobilizing people, ideas and resources.”

HHN Coalitions & Focus:

Heartland Healthy Neighborhoods started in March of 2008 with five people.

The five, at one time or another, had all been to meetings and discussed health and wellness issues. Great ideas were expressed at these meetings, but that was “it” just “ideas” expressed with little or no follow-up. As we started to talk our frustration was not with the ideas but with the follow through. That day, five people, representing five organizations, made the decision to join forces and “work” on initiatives and support programs important to the well-being of Topeka/Shawnee County.

In addition, we would meet monthly and invite others to join us. In August 2008, the coalition received a grant from the YMCA and Center for Disease Control. With money in hand the coalition has worked hard to identify initiatives and support programs.

Fast forward to June 2009 at the SW YMCA on a Monday monthly meeting, thirty-six people and organizations gathered around tables and the conversation was as diverse as the participants but all centered on what the coalition was doing and/or supporting. The coalition, Heartland Healthy Neighborhoods, was called to order and the agenda was overwhelming! Two major initiatives, Clean Air Act and Complete Streets, were updated. Many Kansas communities have passed a Clean Air Act and in fact many of Topeka/Shawnee County restaurants presently have a non-smoking policy. Programs include the K-State Extension Score Card (which has grown 200% over last year’s enrollment), Strong Kids, the Farmer’s Market, the movie “Consuming Kids,” Community Garden, and Art on the Move, an art program with Arts Connect, Chords and Oil and Topeka Transit.

As we discuss policies and programs, I sit back in amazement -- the room which was once too large, is crowded, the electricity resulting from the successes and the synergy is overwhelming.

Heartland Healthy Neighborhoods is an example of what can be accomplished when people with initiative and the attitude of “we are not doing it for me but for us” take ideas, run with them and refuse to let road blocks steer them off course. Heartland Healthy Neighborhoods is open and always looking for new community builders.

Heartland Healthy Neighborhoods is just one more example why Topeka/Shawnee County is a great place to live! For further information contact, Nancy Johnson, Community Resources Council Executive Director, 233-1365 or crcexec@crcnet.org

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