Efforts to improve health in Crawford County are receiving attention — and awards — at the state level.

Live Well Crawford County, a nonprofit group dedicated to promoting healthy lifestyles choices through education, motivation and support for all generations, was honored for its active transportation efforts at the Kansas Obesity Summit last week.

“It was the Kansas Health Champion for an organization, that was presented by the Governor’s Council on Fitness,” said Martha Murphy, a member of Live Well. “We applied for the award. We’d been working on a master plan for active transportation in Pittsburg and Girard.”

Murphy said Live Well has been working to change policy, systems and environments in order to make lasting change in Crawford County’s health indicators.

“For more than a decade Crawford County has sat near the bottom of health, wellness and economic indicators,” state committee members in their application for the award. “Pick a report: Kansas Health Matters; Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; Kaiser Health Foundation and there we are, very near the bottom.”

The committee noted many diseases in the 21st century are chronic — such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity, asthma and depression — which can be impacted by surrounding environments.

“There is a connection, for example, between the fact that the urban sprawl we live with makes no room for sidewalks or bike paths and the fact that we are an overweight, heart disease-ridden society,” states the application. “The policy, systems and environmental work of Live Well should eventually help move Crawford County to a better placement in the health and wellness indicators.”

That work was recognized, with Live Well Crawford County honored as the 2015 Kansas Health Champion organization.

Additionally, what those in attendance heard at the summit reaffirmed the work being done locally.

“The main speaker was a man from the Center for Disease Control,” Murphy said. “What he spoke on was an affirmation for us on what we’re doing.”

Live Well Crawford County also has big future plans, and has formed four task forces to dig in deeper. They include Live Active which is working to make the county more walkable and bikeable; Eat Well, which is the county-appointed Food Policy Council; Breathe Well, which advocates for smoke-free environments and Age Well, focusing on the health of the aging population.

“We really believe if we can improve the health of our community we can also improve the economy of our community,” Murphy said.