Moving Starke County Forward Honored by IPHCA Award

Nancy Dembowski
Nancy Dembowski
Moving Starke County Forward – a health coalition working to improve the quality of life for Starke County residents through the encouragement, creation and advocacy for a healthy Starke County – was recently heralded for their efforts. HealthLinc was given the Special Exemplary Project Award by the Indiana Primary Health Care Association for their role in creating the organization, and according to Beth Wrobel, CEO of HealthLinc, Moving Starke County Forward is “emblematic of community groups coming together to focus not only on improving health outcomes, but also identifying the social determinants that lead to poor health.”

Nancy Dembowski, member of Moving Starke County Forward, said they were thrilled to hear about the award.

“Certainly, we’re a brand new organization so we were really surprised and thrilled about the award. Our organization was formed through a grant from the State Board of Health, so really it was just an attempt to get the community involved in improving our health statistics which have been really very poor,” said Dembowski.

HealthLinc received a grant in 2011 from Indiana State Department of Health to develop a health improvement plan for Starke County, identifying the social determinants facing the county. Since then, the Moving Starke County Forward coalition held a drug symposium with Attorney General Gregg Zoeller as the keynote speaker and sponsored the “Moving Starke County Across America” campaign aimed at getting residents moving. In two weeks, 269 residents broke the goal—logging miles for biking, running, and walking. To keep momentum, residents aspired to reach 25,000 miles through the “Moving Starke County Around the World” initiative. They achieved this with a collective total of over 27,426 miles.

Dembowski said the community response was overwhelming.

“We have a high incidence of obesity, diabetes, tobacco use, drug use and those kinds of things, so we wanted to do something achievable. We did this and people in this community responded so tremendously that I think that’s the reason we got the award. So we’re encouraged and we hope that that means that as we move ahead in other areas, we’re looking at doing some things in the area of drug use and so forth, that we’ll be equally successful. We’re just really very pleased about it,” Dembowski said.