Riley and Pottawatomie Counties recently received the Chronic Disease Risk Reduction (CDRR) Grant award of $35,800 from Kansas Department of Health and Environment to address chronic disease risk reduction through evidence-based strategies that impact tobacco use, physical activity, nutrition, and chronic disease self-management over the next year, according to a press release sent by Riley County K-State Research and Extension Tuesday.

Pottawatomie County has received funding towards chronic disease risk reduction for over 15 years consecutively, but this represents Riley County’s first time re-acquiring funding in recent years. The two counties will work collaboratively to implement strategies to make their communities healthier. Julia Lambert, a life-long community resident, is the newly contracted CDRR Coordinator supporting the efforts of both counties.

A focus for this grant period by both counties is tobacco prevention, specifically among youth and within school districts. Data from the Kansas Youth Risk Behavior Survey (KYRBS) indicated that one in ten high school students smoke cigarettes. Tobacco is currently the leading cause of preventable death and disease in Kansas.

Both counties will work collaboratively to implement tobacco prevention strategies within the community by promoting use of tools and resources such as the Kansas Tobacco Quitline and Brief Tobacco Intervention (BTI).

The Pottawatomie County efforts are led by their local Wellness Coalition. Specifically, the coalition will offer support and resources to already identified WorkWell sites on tobacco prevention and promoting healthy practices within these organizations, as well as initiate tobacco free efforts in local parks.

Acting Pottawatomie County Health Department Director, Mary Abitz, says, “I am impressed with the dedicated group of individuals from multiple sectors in our county who are committed to learning and working together to improve the health of our community.”

The Riley County efforts are coordinated by the Flint Hills Wellness Coalition. Riley County has started by focusing on their community’s food system and enlisting help at the state level to identify gaps, needs, excesses, and shortcomings through a Local Food System’s Assessment. The group will use the information from the Food System’s Assessment to form specific work groups responsible for bettering the food system in our community.

Jessica Fiscus, Health Educator and Accreditation Coordinator for the Riley County Health Department says, “We are very excited to collaborate with Pottawatomie County. Our communities are very fluid and this will be a great approach to impact the health of citizens in both counties.”

Through these efforts, each county has striven to make their community a healthier place through their respective coalitions. However, as this is a joint-funded effort, there are ways our counties have been collaborating. Leadership from each county have been meeting and discussing how to accomplish CDRR objectives, sharing resources, and brainstorming effective solutions. The eventual goal will to bring each county’s efforts full circle, having a regional level council with members from both Riley and Pottawatomie coalitions collaborating and sharing resources

If any of the above efforts and initiatives are of interest, please contact Julia Lambert at In the meantime, be on the lookout for more information and updates concerning efforts through the CDRR and ways to get involved.

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