Award winners in Kansas make wellness a priority.

Credit local and area residents for coming up with blueprints for better health in their communities.

During the second annual Kansas Obesity Summit recently in Topeka, Lisa Moritz of Tribune was honored as the state's individual health champion for her efforts in promoting health and wellness.

The Unified Greeley County Health Nurse and nurse for Greeley County USD 200 schools, Moritz was honored for addressing nutrition, physical activity and general health issues with students and school employees.

She organized walking and running events, and designed an eight-week program to help local residents build stamina to cover a 5K run.

Moritz also created "The Solution to Your Resolution Wellness Program" designed to improve participants' eating, blood pressure and winter activity levels.

Also during the Kansas Obesity Summit, Garden City USD 457's wellness team received an organizational honorable mention for providing a solid lesson for people of all ages.

USD 457 initiatives included naming wellness champions at each district school or building who organized health-conscious activities for employees and students.

Initiatives also included walk/run events and related training programs, walking programs before school, fitness clubs, staff exercise classes, evening community health and wellness events and monthly health challenges.

Both Moritz and the Garden City group showed how fun, competitive events encourage participation, and through activities other groups could emulate.

Along with singling out such impressive wellness initiatives, the summit organized by Gov. Sam Brownback and the Governor's Council on Fitness also pushed participants to craft new strategies needed to address the health and economic impact of obesity in Kansas.

Kansans honored during the summit knew no time could be wasted, and showed the kind of urgency required to reverse a frightening trend in the Sunflower State.

Obesity among Kansas adults increased from 15 percent in 1995 to 30.1 percent in 2010, which meant the rate of obesity more than doubled over that time.

Clearly, more Kansans need encouragement and incentive in their personal pursuit of a proper balance of diet and exercise. Kudos to difference-makers in Tribune and Garden City for creating as much in healthy examples for others to follow.