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2023 Kansas Health Champions Announced

TOPEKA – The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) and the Governor’s Council on Fitness (GCOF) presented the Kansas Health Champion Awards today, Thursday, January 26 at the Community Health Promotion Summit.

The Health Champion Award was developed by the Governor’s Council on Fitness to recognize and promote exemplary contributions to fitness in Kansas. Those recognized include an individual and an organization, as well as honorable mentions in each category.

  • Individual Health Champion: Douglas Neal, Topeka.
  • Organizational Health Champion: Stay Strong Live Well Wilson County.
  • Individual Honorable Mention: Renaire Palmer, Wichita.
  • Organizational Honorable Mention: STAND, a vision of Mirror Inc.

“Congratulations to this year’s champions of health.” Secretary Janet Stanek, KDHE, said. “We appreciate your dedication to improving the health and livelihoods of the people of Kansas.”

Champions of health

DouglasNeil of Topeka is the Palliative Care Program Manager at the Kansas Department of Health and the Environment (KDHE) and facilitates the activities of the Interdisciplinary Advisory Council on Palliative Care and Quality of Life. Douglas served 27 years in the United States Army as a Senior Division Petty Officer and earned his Master Fitness Trainer title during that time. He also currently works as a Level III (the highest level) trainer at Genesis Health Clubs, where he works with clients of all ages. Douglas has demonstrated a strong dedication to improving the lives of those around him by modeling good health and fitness in sustainable ways.

Dr Latania Marr y Ortega, who nominated Douglas, said: “Mr. Neal’s sphere of influence has been far-reaching. Throughout his career as a non-commissioned officer in the US Army, his current position as a palliative care officer for KDHE, and as a fitness instructor, his message of achieving a fit and healthy lifestyle to avoid chronic disease continues to influence communities of all ages and ethnicities. Mr. Neal is dedicated to improving the lives of Kansans and is truly a champion of health.

Dr Be Stoney, who also nominated Douglas, said: ‘Mr Neal’s military and professional careers have brought him to where he is today. Now responsible for palliative care for KHDE, she epitomizes what it takes to not only educate yourself to assist others in healthy lifestyles, but model what it takes to be healthy, exercise, make healthy food choices and be determined to understand the importance of modeling”.

Be strong live well Wilson County is a community coalition that focuses on improving the health of Wilson County residents. They work with local restaurants to increase the availability of healthy food, work to build and create access to trails and parks, and partner with Fredonia Regional Hospital to implement a resource referral network that connects patients with community organizations. communities that can respond to various needs.

Carlie Houchen, who nominated Stay Strong Live Well Wilson County, said, “Their work will have a lasting impact on Kansas health and fitness because they are driving systemic and environmental change. They’re really changing the context for their community members. People will have free access to trails and parks that didn’t exist before. This removes significant barriers to active living and healthy eating to prepare people to be healthy and happy.

Honorable mentions

Renaire Palmer of Wichita is a nutrition and wellness coach, certified fitness instructor, and owner of Fundamental Fitness, a gym and fitness center. Renaire has also developed Fun Fit Life

Foundation, a non-profit fitness and nutrition program for underserved students. She has also donated her time to support a non-profit organization that combines literacy and fitness called Hoops 4 Literacy. Renaire has dedicated the past 12 years of her personal life and career to improving the health and well-being of the Wichita community.

Prisca Barnes, who nominated Renaire, said: “Improving the health and well-being of a community is no simple task. That’s why Renaire’s commitment to reaching younger generations is so important. Her work in schools, community centers, parks and more empowers underserved youth and their families by giving them the tools to live happier, healthier lives.”

STAND, a vision of Mirror Inc. is a student-led group that focuses on advocacy and peer education about substance abuse and encouraging healthy lifestyle choices. The STAND initiative is in its fifth year and aims to improve mental and physical health in their communities. They organize activities throughout the year that encourage students to be physically active while also building relationships. STAND has appeared before school boards, city councils and local town halls to advocate for community change and has been successful in getting their communities to pass ordinances raising the age for the purchase of tobacco and banning tobacco. use of tobacco in city parks.

Danna Gordon, who nominated STAND, said, “Members are creating social change and have made an impact on thousands of people through their positive leadership, prevention education, and student-designed projects that meet community needs. STAND is essential to the culture of our school and community.”


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