Local employers serve a vital role in the health of communities. People who work are more likely to have positive health outcomes, particularly when employed by businesses that prioritize the health and safety of their employees. Poor community health can increase health care costs, increase sick days, lower productivity and competitiveness and compromise business success and growth. Many factors shape health, including education, economic status and access to essential services, such as child care. Lasting impacts of inequitable historical policies, such as segregation, redlining, restrictive covenants and exclusionary zoning policies, have created inequitable opportunities to build wealth, particularly for Black community members.
On Dec. 1, 2023, the Wichita Business Journal, as part of their Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Summit, hosted a dynamic in-person event to reflect on these factors and to rally the business community around health improvement. The Data Walk featured eight posters with local data about health regarding these factors and the importance of improving community health.
Improving these factors often requires a multifaceted approach that begins with mobilizing community members, business leaders and other stakeholders to act. During the Data Walk, participants met with other community and business leaders and offered new and challenging interpretations of the data as well as unique ideas to get at the root causes of these complex issues in Wichita. The group heard from organizers and supporters of the event, including Ed O’Malley, President and CEO of the Kansas Health Foundation, who was the keynote speaker.
The Kansas Health Foundation and Kansas Leadership Center provided funding and support for the event. The Kansas Health Institute conducted data analysis and developed the content for the Data Walk posters.