Plan4Health Success Story: Building Capacity in Kansas

Plan4Health connects communities across the country, funding work at the intersection of planning and public health. Anchored by American Planning Association (APA) chapters and American Public Health Association (APHA) affiliates, Plan4Health supports creative partnerships to build sustainable, cross-sector coalitions.

APA's Kansas Chapter received a Planners4Health grant to build capacity statewide between Planners and Public Health Practitioners with the purpose of improving local public health outcomes.

It was determined that a portion of this funding would be used to support existing local coalitions with immediate needs, either goods or services, focused around reducing health inequities at the local level.

The grantees and the awarded projects in Kansas are:

  • Crawford County Health Department (Pittsburg): Age Well Crawford County Task Force
  • Clara Barton Hospital (Hosington): Health for Life Coalition (Hosington & North Barton County)
  • Franklin County Health Department (Ottawa): Live Health Franklin County Coalition
  • Thrive Allen County (Iola): Thrive Allen County Coalition
  • City of Fort Scott (Fort Scott): Health Bourbon County Action Team

The Planners4Health initiative builds on the successful work on the Thomas County Coalition, a grantee in the second cohort of Plan4Health.

Obesity is a major concern in Thomas County, with 32.3 percent of adults and nearly 30 percent of children being classified as obese. Income inequalities are prevalent and obesity rates are worse when comparing lower versus higher income families. Obesity is a risk factor for a number of adverse health conditions including diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.

During the Plan4Health project period, the Thomas County Coalition created environments where the healthy choice is the easy choice for Thomas County residents.

The coalition leveraged the momentum of the community's first Walking and Biking Master Plan, adopted in June 2015, by implementing a complete streets policy, adopting protected bike lines, and requiring developers to construct multi-use paths on future projects.

Through vending and procurement policies, education, and the establishment of school gardens, the coalition also implemented community-wide improvements to the food and beverage environments as well.

Top image: School gardens in Thomas County, Kansas. Photo courtesy Thomas County Coalition.

About the Author
Lisa Koch, AICP, is an associate researcher at the University of Kansas Transportation Center and owner of Groundswell Consulting, LLC.

November 23, 2018

By Lisa Koch, AICP