Obesity causes or exacerbates numerous chronic diseases and conditions that can lead to death, including diabetes and hypertension. In an effort to address the obesity epidemic in Arkansas, the governor-led Healthy Active Arkansas (HAA) initiative was launched to provide a 10-year framework with phased goals to increase the percentage of Arkansans who are at a healthy weight. As part of this initiative, and supported by funding from the Blue & You Foundation for a Healthier Arkansas, the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement (ACHI) convened 10 meetings in 2017 and 2018 to engage, recruit, and activate a network of local champions to assist in meeting these goals.
This study, featuring Batesville Mayor Rick Elumbaugh and his city’s policy efforts and health initiatives, is part of a series of case studies highlighting success stories from the HAA Statewide Learning Network.
Prior to becoming mayor of Batesville in 2007, Elumbaugh spent more than 30 years teaching physical education and health in Batesville schools and coaching in Desha schools (prior to the Desha School District’s merger with the Batesville district). Following some early success replacing critical wastewater infrastructure for the city, Elumbaugh turned to his passion for physical activity and health. Beginning with community gardens, Elumbaugh and his city have implemented initiatives to change the community’s health and wellness, including:
- Starting the greenway trail through a grant;
- Expansion and connection of trails through grants;
- Development of a community center and sports complex; and
- Collaborating with America Walks to create a safe, accessible, and walkable environment.