Who We Are
The History of Healthy Communities Wyandotte
Healthy Communities Wyandotte (HCW) was formed in 2010 as a result of the 2009 County Health Rankings, which ranked Wyandotte County as having the worst health in Kansas. The Mayor at the time, Joe Reardon, challenged leaders to act collectively to improve our dire health status. The initial planning group became an official Steering Committee for the new Health Communities Wyandotte Coalition and in 2011 oversaw the formation of five Action Teams (see History of HCW timeline).
Over the years, that structure has evolved. HCW welcomed new teams to address additional issues and strategies, like Tobacco Free Wyandotte in 2015. We also bid a fond farewell as some teams branched off and found new homes under different organizations, like the Health Systems Action Team becoming Enroll Wyandotte, based at the Community Health Council. Others changed their name or mission, like the Nutrition Action Team becoming the Food Systems Action Team (FSAT), and we applauded their efforts to better align with local health issues.
2018 brought perhaps the greatest changes, affecting several large HCW initiatives. Alive & Thrive, which focuses on trauma and resilience, is now in the capable hands of Wyandot, Inc. The Fetal & Infant Mortality Review Community Action Team continues under the leadership of the Health Department, and has taken on an identity of its own outside of HCW. Finally, we were saddened to make the difficult decision to halt the Food Systems Action Team due to staffing and resource constraints. See our History of HCW timeline above illustrating more about the evolution of our teams and committees from 2011 to present.
HCW emerges in 2019 a smaller, more focused health coalition. We continue our commitment to addressing social determinants of health, including: improving the built environment to increase physical activity (through the Infrastructure Action Team); organizing tobacco control initiatives to reduce our county’s elevated adult smoking rate(through the Tobacco Free Wyandotte Action Team); and unifying and amplifying a pro-health policy agenda (through the Policy Committee). The Unified Government Public Health Department serves as the backbone for HCW, providing staff and resources to the Action Teams and associated projects. HCW is also pleased to partner with the 2018-2023 Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP), which is a separate initiative working on additional social determinants of health issues. Among other things, CHIP and HCW are collaborating on health policy initiatives through the HCW Policy Committee.
HCW wouldn’t be possible without all our community partners who are committed to changing the conditions in which people live, work, learn, and play to see lasting improvement in Wyandotte County’s health and quality of life. Thank you so much to all the community partners who have been instrumental in this work over the years!
Here are just a few examples of HCW’s accomplishments since 2011:
Aided in the development and passage of a Complete Streets Resolution in 2011 to support streets that are safe and welcoming for all forms of transportation, including walking, biking, and transit.
Started Enroll Wyandotte, a program focused on getting more of our residents covered by health insurance by assisting people with enrollment.
Conducted the first Local Food Economy Assessment for Wyandotte County, to show the current food access issues facing our residents.
Worked with partners in the County and the metro area to pass Tobacco 21 policies (to help prevent teens from becoming addicted to tobacco) in Kansas City, KS, Bonner Springs, and Edwardsville.