Proud to live in Kansas City

Culture of Health prize

Kansas Citians accepting RWJF Culture of Health prize

Proud to be from Kansas City


Kansas City is sometimes on great lists and other times on not-so-great lists. My friend, Jim Heeter, at the Kansas City Chamber, says that Kansas City wants to move from a Fat City to a Fit City and the business community has been willing to help in that effort.

With that in mind, we were so excited to be invited to Princeton, New Jersey, with a great group of Kansas Citians to celebrate the RWJF Culture of Health Prize, an annual award that honors communities working toward better health. I’m proud to share that Kansas City was one of eight communities awarded this prize, chosen from 340 applicants.

Applicants were asked to share their approach to health in five pages and a short video. We couldn’t be more proud of Kansas City’s application, prepared by the Kansas City Health Department. They spent more than one year’s work in preparing for this prize, and we are grateful for their dedication. Compiling Kansas City’s accomplishments within the application’s parameters proved to be a rewarding challenge — because there were so many great successes to share. This is evidence that we are making progress in moving toward a more Fit City.

The people who represented Kansas City at the award ceremony are indicative of what it takes to get to a Fit City: public health, community organizers, neighborhood alliances, city government, business and philanthropy. Not one of these was more important than the other in getting to this prize. The prize recognizes that we have BEGUN the work and asked the questions about how health can belong to everyone. We know that this is only the first part of a longer but important journey.  

It was a great privilege to be there with the other eight communities that were recognized and to see the similarities in our work. We made great connections that will encourage us and give us additional examples in our future efforts.

Sometimes when we are in the midst of the work, it is hard to see how efforts connect.

This is what others saw in our community:

  • Defining health in the broadest terms—from clinical care to environments that support healthy behaviors, but a deep understanding that health is also grounded in the social and economic factors that drive health
  • Committing to sustainable systems changes and policy-oriented solutions—an approach that assures a long term focus on health
  • Cultivating a shared and deeply held belief in the importance of equal opportunity for health
  • Harnessing the collective power of leaders, partners, and community members
  • Securing and making the most of available resources
  • Measuring and sharing progress and results.

“Woven throughout these criteria, your communities excelled at the core outcomes of a Culture of Health—improved health, well-being, and most vividly, a strong sense of equity. In your communities, all voices were valued, including the strong and valued voices of those most affected by poor health, by poor economics, by poor educational outcomes. You have and will continue to show us how to create a Culture of Health by doing with, not doing to others.” ~ Julie Willems Van Dijk, director of County Health Rankings and Roadmaps and RWJF Culture of Health judge.

One more reason to be so proud to live in Kansas City.

Healthy Communities

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