Event designed to promote healthy outdoor activities
TOPEKA -- On Oct. 1-3, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) will conduct a three-day event entitled the 2009 Built Environment and the Outdoors Summit. The event will take place at the Capitol Plaza Hotel (Oct. 1-2) in Topeka and on the Kansas River on Oct. 3.

The summit will promote the concept that the design of a community — called a "built environment" where people live, work, learn, and play — heavily influences their well-being. The built environment concept emphasizes the importance of walking and biking and includes opportunities to access fresh fruits and vegetables, has varied outdoor opportunities that include trail systems, and is safe. Many factors affect the built environment concept, including policy, city planning, coalition work, zoning, and citizen involvement. This summit will address how the public can affect the built environment and enhance current and planned trail systems, as well as stream access, to ensure that communities support healthy eating and active living. The scope of these goals is to reach all neighborhoods within a community and across the state of Kansas.

The event will also include tours, lectures, and interactive sessions on a variety of topics. Thursday, Oct. 1, will feature walking, running, and biking tours, followed by a lecture by Mark Fenton, Public Health and Transportation consultant and contributing editor of Health Magazine. After lunch, State Treasurer Dennis McKinney will speak on building partnerships and bridging the gap between the built environment and the outdoors. The afternoon will include breakout sessions on Building Successful Coalitions, moderated by Greg Meissen, professor of community psychology at Wichita State University; Shawnee Mission Park Biodiversity, moderated by Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) Parks Division director Jerry Hover; Raising a Riverfront, moderated by KDWP Secretary Mike Hayden; Strategies to Becoming a Bicycle Friendly Community, moderated by Kansas Department of Transportation bicycle and pedestrian coordinator Becky Pepper; Kansas Rail-Trails, moderated by KDWP Prairie Spirit Rail Trail park manager Trent McCown; and KanBikeWalk, moderated by Cindy Winters of KDHE's Office of Health Promotion.

Friday's session will include seminars on Building Healthy Communities, moderated by Dr. Richard Jackson, professor and chair Environmental Health Sciences at UCLA School of Public Health; People/Partnerships: Boston, moderated by Jeff Usher, program officer for the Kansas Health Foundation; Funding Opportunities Provided to Communities Through State Organizations, moderated by Becky Pepper; Kansas Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights, moderated by Todd Lovin, KDWP park manager at Tuttle Creek State Park; Bicycle and Pedestrian Facilities, moderated by Bill Riphahn, director of Planning and Development for the Topeka Parks and Recreation Office; Active Healthy Kids Camps, moderated by KDWP Kaw River State Park manager Jeff Bender; Funding Opportunities Provided to Communities Through Private Organizations, moderated by Becky Pepper; Making the 2009 SCORP and Statewide Trails Plan Work For You, moderated by Jerry Hover; and From Brush Dump to Wow, moderated by Linda Lanterman, KDWP assistant Parks Division director.

Day 3 will begin at 8:30 a.m. with a Trail Design and Building Workshop, held on-site at the new Kaw River State Park (KDWP Region 2 Office, 300 SW Wanamaker Rd., Topeka). This day will be dedicated to designing and building sustainable trails. On-site examples of both good and bad trail design and conditions, trail design elements, construction techniques, tools, and trail building equipment will be demonstrated.

A catered lunch will be provided. Speakers will include Mike Goodwin and Jeff Bender. Full conference details and registration information are available on the KDHE website, www.kdheks.gov.