The Kansas Department of Health and Environment announced last week that the Finney County Community Health Coalition will be one of 10 Kansas organizations to receive the Governor’s Council on Fitness’ Walking Enhancement Funding Opportunity grants used to encourage walking.

The KDHE sees walking as a key strategy for healthy communities, according to a press release from the department, and hopes to help Kansas counties implement infrastructure that will encourage residents to travel or exercise on foot.

“Walking is a simple and enjoyable physical activity that most people can do,” Marlou Wegener, chair on the Governor’s Council on Fitness, said in the press release. “By building walking into a regular routine of physical activity, people can reduce their risk of chronic disease and improve their mental health. This funding opportunity will do just that: encourage walking as a healthy behavior while allowing people to get outside and enjoy their communities.”

Applicants submitted descriptions of projects they intended to carry out with the $5,000 to $10,000 award funding. Communities are reportedly using the money to improve crosswalks, connect trails, install sidewalks and lights and establish promotional campaigns that encourage residents to be more active.

The Finney County Community Health Coalition, or LiveWell Finney County, received $10,000, said CDRR grant coordinator Donna Gerstner. She said the coalition would turn the money over to the City of Garden City, which will apply it toward an extension of the city’s proposed walking trail, Pioneer Pathway. The extension will allow the trail to reach from residential areas on Third Street, near Valley View Cemetery, to Garden City High School. Gerstner said the trail’s extension will give students a safer route home from the isolated campus.

“The parking (at the high school) is just atrocious, and there are several kids every day that wait off of campus to meet their parents on a whole other street…” Gerstner said. “If we can provide a safe alternative for them to walk, that’s what needs to be done.”

Gerstner said the city still has to take bids for the project, but that construction likely will start this summer. She said she hopes it will be done in the fall, but that it realistically may not be completed until next spring.


Contact Amber Friend at