The Garden City Telegram
4/20/2014
OPINIONS AND COMMENTARY

Fit funds

Grant funds should put city on path to healthier living.

Garden City has made nice strides toward improving pathways for residents.

Programs have been in place to build more sidewalks, including walkways around some local schools as part of a quest to give children a safer way to go to and from school.

Such ventures also reflect an interest in encouraging healthier, more active living.

While long walks once were a matter of routine — people often made their way to school, work and other destinations on foot — the growth of communities made it tougher to get from place to place without driving. Walking as a mode of transportation became less common.

Count Garden City among communities hoping to drive more pedestrian activity, and a grant from the Kansas Health Foundation (KHF) will help the city gain momentum in that regard.

The Western Kansas Community Foundation has been awarded a $75,000 KHF grant intended to promote a healthy community design initiative.

The local plan — "LiveWell Finney County" — will involve a partnership with the Finney County Community Health Coalition and city of Garden City.

One goal is to study how policies can be used to improve the health of a community's residents.

Those involved in "LiveWell Finney County" will study places of need in the community, and consider whether policies on sidewalks and crosswalks should be reviewed — a strategy that promises to enhance existing plans and initiatives.

The plan will involve a focus on ways to build on "Safe Routes to Schools," a state funded grant project in place to boost local development and maintenance of sidewalks and crosswalks.

Through good connections to schools, parks and other destinations, improved walkways deliver a safer route, as well as wellness opportunities at a time too many people suffer from unhealthy weight gain — and at a toll to all in ballooning health-care costs and lost productivity.

Efforts to get more children and adults out walking, staying active and heart healthy are wise investments.

Expect the latest pedestrian-friendly initiative to represent more solid steps in the right direction in enhancing safety, and encouraging more people in the community to move toward better health.