How it all started.

RISE Cowley Beat the Pack facilitator tr


Beginning in 2001, a group evolved from a health committee to a coalition to promote physical and mental wellness and to collaborate for greater resources within our community. In 2006, the coalition started to implement WEKAN grant objectives.

By 2017 coalition participation had an average meeting attendance of 12+ from multiple sectors. Members were motivated to change the name “Cowley County Healthy Communities Coalition.” At our March 2017 meeting, the group voted to change the name to "RISE Cowley" with R.I.S.E. representing "Raising awareness, Improving health, Supporting collaboration and Energizing communities."


With a catchy new moniker, partners found a renewed spirit to promote health and wellness in Cowley County. A game changer for RISE Cowley was being named a Pathways Grant recipient by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas (BCBS) in July 2017.


In January 2018, the coalition restructured to form an Executive Steering Committee and implemented bylaws. The working groups were reorganized into subcommittees to match pathways established by BCBS.  Subcommittees are led by steering committee chairs and involve coalition partners and community members. 

The RISE Cowley steering committee now meets monthly and subcommittees meet independently to further initiatives identified in the BCBS Action Plan. Full coalition meetings are held every other month and are open to the public. Each meeting is started with introductions and  “Healthy Happenings.”

2015 BlueCHIP Community

Winfield is was one of five Kansas communities selected in 2015 by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas and the Kansas Recreation and Park Association.


BlueCHIP is a community health improvement program created to recognize and reward Kansas communities who encourage and  support healthy lifestyles through programs, initiatives, policies and/or community-wide events.

The application was coordinated by RISE Cowley (submitted as the Cowley County Healthy Communities Coalition.)

Preventing Childhood Obesity

RISE Cowley was one of two coalitions in Kansas selected to implement the Communities Preventing Childhood Obesity (CPCO) project. The project goal is to help communities create and sustain environments supporting nutritious food choices, increased physical activity and healthy lifestyles. Seven midwest states are participating in the grant from 2011-2017.


The coalition conducted a Child Ecological Model Assessment which examined the environmental factors affecting 4 year olds (preschoolers) in the community. Results from this assessment guided the coalition in organizing an action plan to address childhood obesity with nutrition and physical activity interventions.

A Success Story: How recognition can change the culture

4/14/2016 - USD 465 Nurse Lorri Greenlee noticed this poster in the Winfield Dillons Grocery Store . Dillons was recognized as the Wellness Champ of the Week for encouraging healthy snacking for its youngest shoppers.


5/02/2016- The store manager approached Wendy Burton, RISE Cowley member/USD 465 Wellness Coordinator. He said the day after the picture was snapped the Regional Manager came in. He asked about the display and told the store manager to take it down.


The next day the local store received the Wellness Champ of the Week Certificate. The picture of the free fruit was also featured in the Winfield Daily Courier. The local manager snapped a picture of the Certificate as well as the feature in the paper and sent it to the Regional Manager.


The display was reinstated and now the Regional Manager has implemented the practice in all the stores in his region!


Learn more about how our coalition came together leading up to our momentous Pathways Grant. 


Funding from the Communities Preventing Childhood Obesity (CPCO) project allowed RISE Cowley to implement nutrition and physical activity interventions between 2011-2016.


Interventions included:

Simple Suppers - a hands-on nutrition education and cooking program designed to teach parents and their preschool children positive food choices and eating behaviors. The class featured 8 sessions and served 13 families in 2014.


Color Me Healthy - curricula for four- and five-year-olds about healthy eating and exercise through stories, activities and music. It is ideal for use by day care providers, preschool programs and families. Color Me Healthy kits are available for a 4 week checkout from all local libraries in Cowley County.


Dr. Carolyn Dunn, author of the curricula,  was the keynote speaker at the Cowley CARES Conference hosted by Cowley College and sponsored by RISE Cowley. 57 child care providers attended the child care training that focused on childhood obesity, nutrition and physical activity choices in 2015.


Community Helper’s Day - Winfield’s Early Learning Center annually hosts a Community Helper’s Day. Health and physical activity educators were featured as one of the stations in 2014. Students participate in physical activity and enjoyed a healthy snack.


School Gardening

Cowley County Head Start staff at Arkansas City and Burden incorporated container gardening activities as part of the Communities Preventing Childhood Obesity project since 2015.


Youth were responsible for the planting and care of vegetable plants. They learned farm to fork concepts as well as basic gardening skills. Families have explored seeds and learned about nutrition from activities led by K-State Research and Extension staff.


Lighted plant stands were constructed for two Head Start sites by Cowley College’s welding program. The stands help extend the growing season and provide a compact learning lab for the students.


Children have taken home seeds and starter plants. Families reported enjoying cherry tomatoes for four months!

Local Foods at Farmers Markets

Cowley County has two farmers markets - Arkansas City Farm and Art Market and Walnut Valley Farmers Market (Winfield). RISE Cowley has partnered with market coordinators to offer special events including 5K/fun runs and market demonstrations.  


Both markets explored the steps necessary to start accepting EBT from SNAP recipients. Focus groups will be utilized in 2017 to promote local foods and engage new customers to shop at the farmers’ markets.


Bike Rack Design Contest

Over 200 local students submitted bike rack designs for consideration in the Bike Rack Design Contest coordinated by RISE Cowley. Winning designs were selected for Arkansas City and Winfield in 2016. Additional designs were selected for Dexter and Udall in 2017.


The winners were selected by a panel of community members which included avid bike riders, art enthusiasts and welders. This project is still ongoing. Winning designs will be constructed by local high school welding departments and installed in family friendly locations to encourage biking.

“Our hope is to draw attention to biking as a healthy and fun option for getting to the park, school, work etc.,” said Kaydee Johnson, 2016 coalition chairperson. “We were thoroughly impressed by the thoughtfulness of the student participants; these bike racks will truly be functional art.”

The winning design for Winfield was drafted by Wyatt Sivils and is modeled to look like a large shark or fish. The bike rack will be installed outside of the Winfield Public Library. The sunflower bench bike rack for Arkansas City was drafted using CAD and submitted by Allison Reidl and Haley Smith.

Interactive Trails Map

RISE Cowley members of the trails working group have mapped trails for the interactive map created by the Cowley County GIS Department.


View the map


Breastfeeding Advocates of Cowley County (BACC), a working group of RISE Cowley, received funding from the United Methodist Healthy Ministry Fund - Impact Funding Team. The “On the Go Breastfeeding” project takes breastfeeding resources to community events to support moms and babies who are on the go. The goal is to help community organizers designate breastfeeding accommodations at events where seating and shelter is limited.


BACC worked with Kansas Sampler Festival organizers to add a Family Services tent to the weekend festival (hosted in Winfield in 2016 & 2017).  BACC volunteers equipped the tent with comfortable chairs, a diaper changing table and electrical hookup. Over 20 families were served in 2016 and the program book and map included information about this family area.


BACC partnered with the Cowley County Fair Board and Flint Hills RV to offer the Family Services RV at the 2016 Cowley County Fair. The unit was staffed by volunteers from 6-11 p.m. each evening of the fair. Over 55 families utilized the space for diaper changing, first aid and lactation.


Participants had positive reviews about the space and encouragement for breastfeeding families.

Community Supporting Breastfeeding


Winfield has received designation as a Community Supporting Breastfeeding from the Kansas Breastfeeding Coalition, Inc.


BACC members networked with multiple sectors - businesses, employers, hospitals, child care providers and peer support - regarding breastfeeding support.


RISE Cowley received a WorkWell KS grant.  Work Well KS partnered with the Community Engagement Institute, Center for Public Health Initiatives (CPHI) to provide coalition strengthening tools.


CPHI provided a list of various technical assistance options for selected communities. RISE Cowley chose short-term strategy planning and met with CPHI facilitators in November 2016.


RISE Cowley reflected on past successes and challenges and identified future participants to include in various circles of involvement. The session concluded with activity planning tied to various working groups.


Community volunteers were recruited to conduct a tobacco retail audit at 27 locations in Arkansas City and Winfield. The audit was conducted by the Chronic Disease Risk Reduction Coordinator of the City-Cowley County Health Department with the assistance of RISE Cowley partners in February 2016.

Additional activities include youth initiated projects; creating a map of tobacco retailers; and a webinar with KS healthy schools.