Heartland Healthy Neighborhoods is the community health coalition in Topeka and Shawnee County, Kansas. The monthly workgroup meetings focus on mobilizing people, ideas and resources around topics and issues identified in the Community Health Needs Assessment and the Community Health Improvement Plan.
History of Heartland Healthy Neighborhoods:
The ideas behind what eventually would become Heartland Healthy Neighborhoods started in March of 2008, when five people met together to talk about health and wellness issues. That day, those people, representing five organizations, made the decision to work together to promote a healthier Topeka and Shawnee County.
The group contacted other organizations that had an interest in the health and well-being of the community and began meeting together to organize its activities and priorities. In the fall of 2008 the group adopted the name Heartland Healthy Neighborhoods, emblematic of the notion that health is for all. The group applied for and won a Pioneering Healthier Communities (PHC) grant from the national YMCA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The first year of the grant was just large enough to fund ten members to attend PHC training in Washington, DC in December 2008. Those ten members became the core of the HHN’s leadership.
Because of the experience in the PHC training, the leadership team agreed to focus on Complete StreetsTM as its initial policy initiative. With grant funding, HHN put on a two-day symposium, featuring a guest consultant that provided training for architects, city planners, elected officials, and the general public. Resulting was a Complete StreetsTM resolution passed by the city council in 2009.
The following year the Topeka city council enacted another major initiative: a Clean Indoor Air ordinance. HHN had an active role in the passage of the ordinance, gathering support for and providing testimony in favor of the ordinance.
HHN has promoted several health-conscious programs, including the K-State Extension Score Card (which has grown 200% over last year’s enrollment), Strong Kids, the Farmer’s Market, the movie “Consuming Kids,” Community Gardens, and Art on the Move, an art program with Arts Connect, Chords and Oil and Topeka Transit.