News Features

Public Health Work at K-State

K-State Engagement E-News, November/December 2009 (PDF)

by Rachel Richardson

"Engage, retain, while having fun" is the mission Dr. Elaine Johannes, K-State Research and Extension and assistant professor of family studies and human services, tries to implement as she strives to engage the community in finding solutions to health issues within the state of Kansas. It has been found that "whole community efforts that include informational, behavioral-social, environmental and policy approaches have been found to be effective in increasing the physical activity levels." (CDC, 2006). That is why Johannes works with the help of the Get it - Do it! grant which is funded by the USDA to encourage small town communities to adapt the following corner stones: access to healthy places, collaboration to organize and sustain projects, science and research to ground projects, prepare workforce to build capacity and lastly, work on communications to promote and motivate change.

Johannes works to fulfill those corner stones by working with both the youth of the community and the adults. For the past three years there have been workshops at Rock Springs that train teams of adults and youth. "We strive to have these sessions be both informative and fun," says Johannes "it's important to remember adults need to have fun too." Other workshops are held to help increase capacity building by creating needs assessments and grant proposals. The communities have then used their grant money to enhance their community by improving facilities, creating health and wellness centers or by planning events that will bring money to their towns. These training sessions assist youth to increase their personal and social development, sense of responsibility and instill in them the confidence that they can make a difference.