Community nonprofit organization Moving Starke County Forward is receiving national attention for its efforts to improve health outcomes for local residents. The effort began as a coalition in 2012 after the county received poor scores in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Rankings compared to the rest of the state. A grant from the Indiana State Department of Health funded the coalition startup. Moving Starke County Forward Board Member Jordan Morris says they’ve sponsored a walking challenge each year in an effort to get residents moving. As a result, she says activity levels have improved in the annual rankings.
Starke County’s momentum caught the attention of officials with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. They recently interviewed Moving Starke County Forward Chair Nancy Dembowski and board members Ted Hayes and Morris. She says their story will be featured in late April and adds they are using smart goals and putting research-based plans into action.
Morris says Starke County has increased five spots in the health behaviors rankings. They also look at health factors, which improved from 91st to 81st place from 2015. Morris acknowledges there’s still work to do but says Starke County is moving in the right direction.
“I like to look at Starke County as an individual, let’s say they’re five-foot-four and their starting weight is 300 pounds. They walk into the doctor’s office weighing in at 220. Now the doctor can look at this individual and say ‘you’re still obese’ or they can look at them and say, ‘awesome work, congratulations. We’re proud of the diligence and commitment you’ve made to losing 80 pounds.’ That’s a big deal.”
The next Moving Starke County Forward fitness challenge will get underway around Memorial Day and continue through Labor Day. Follow Moving Starke County Forward on Facebook for more information.tory on the “Community Stories” section of the County Health Rankings by late April.