City to join 'Meltdown'

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Bourbon County is now on board a Southeast Kansas program aimed at helping people live healthier lifestyles.

The Visioning a Healthier Bourbon County Committee, Mercy Health for Life, Buck Run Community Center and THRIVE Southeast Kansas have partnered to offer locally the SEK Meltdown program, a six-week communitywide weight loss program that promotes healthy lifestyles through local and regional fitness centers and services.

A kickoff celebration event, featuring fitness, cooking, dance and nutrition classes offered by BRCC and Mercy Health for Life, as well as several other programs to encourage active living, is scheduled to take place from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday at BRCC, 735 Scott Ave.

Jody Brillhart, chairwoman of the Visioning a Healthier Bourbon County Committee, said this is the first year Bourbon County has participated in the multi-county project, which includes five other SEK counties that will each host their own kickoff events.

"It's designed to get Southeast Kansas residents healthier through nutrition, to create some habits, and to get them to form teams to work out together and motivate each other," she said. "Maybe we can get some healthier habits created."

For a one-time $12 fee, each participant can register Saturday for health screenings, classes and special discounts at BRCC and Mercy Health for Life for the duration of the program, which ends Oct. 29.

"We're letting people in the county and Fort Scott know what's available to them," Fort Scott Recreation Director Tom Robertson said. "What's unique about this is that Buck Run is working closely with Mercy Health for Life and the (Visioning a) Healthier Bourbon County Committee."

Participants can sign up for the program as individuals, or as part of a team of up to 10 people. Individuals must be 18 years of age to participate. The goal of the program is to help people "get healthier and become more fit," Robertson said.

Mercy Health for Life Manager Kirk Sharp said the program involves a "commitment to be fit."

"We've been thinking about a partnership we could do together for a long while to benefit the community," he said.

The program teaches participants about healthy eating and exercise and gives them a better knowledge of their own health. Organizers also hope to create awareness about the obesity issue in the region, Sharp said.

"There's an obesity issue here in Southeast Kansas," he said. "We're doing what we can to improve on that and create health awareness."

Individuals and teams can also set up their own web pages through THRIVE Southeast Kansas, an organization similar to the Visioning a Healthier Bourbon County Committee, Brillhart said.

On the site, participants can track their own weight loss and exercise numbers and goals. Information is kept private.

Use of the websites will help organizers determine the effectiveness of the program at the end of its six-week period, Brillhart said.

Proceeds will pay for project costs, she said.

The SEK Meltdown is initiated by the SEK Regional Health Coalition, which based the program on the health priorities of nine counties in Southeast Kansas.

In 2010, 29.4 percent of adult Kansans were considered obese; faring slightly better than neighboring Missouri at 30.5 percent. Colorado had the lowest percentage at 21 percent, according to data provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.