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K-State Today

November 6, 2017

K-State faculty, Flint Hills Wellness Coalition awarded Leadership Transformation Grant

Submitted by Brandon Irwin

The Kansas Leadership Center in Wichita has awarded the Flint Hills Wellness Coalition $25,000 worth of leadership training. Kansas State University's Staley School of Leadership Studies, Healthy Communities Laboratory and Master of Public Health program are among the coalition partners.

The Leadership Transformation grant will support 40 members from the Flint Hills Wellness Coalition in building their leadership capacity. Leadership is a critical element in working in together on complex health problems in Riley County and beyond.

"We are facing a number of tough, complex community health problems in Riley County for which technical solutions are just not going to cut it," said Brandon Irwin, assistant professor of kinesiology and lead organizer for the grant project.

At the center of this effort is equipping the members of the coalition with the tools they need to work together to make progress on achieving health equity in Riley County. Health equity is the idea that everyone has an equal opportunity to achieve the highest possible health and well-being.

Julie Hettinger, health educator and director of the Flint Hills Wellness Coalition, is excited about the opportunity.

"Part of our vision is for everyone in Riley County to have equal opportunity in achieving optimal health," she said. "However, there are clearly folks in the community who lack the same basic opportunities to achieve the highest possible health as others do."

The coalition is primarily focused on health equity issues of transportation, food insecurity, access to affordable quality child care and coordination of health services.

"Building a new website or hiring a consultant to come in and try to fix these isn't going to work," Irwin said. "These require bringing people together, including underrepresented voices, and problem-solving, together. This all requires leadership. We believe everyone in the coalition can learn these skills."

The Flint Hills Wellness Coalition is composed of community residents, agencies and organizations that value health. Other partners include the Riley County Health Department, Via Christi, Konza Prairie Community Health Clinic and the Flint Hills Metropolitan Planning Organization, among many others.

Learn more about the Flint Hills Wellness Coalition, the specific projects and how to get involved.

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