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Current News

Starke County in the Spotlight

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

After landing near bottom on the list of healthy counties in 2011, Starke County residents realized they had to do something to change their future. Now, the same group that published the rankings is featuring Starke County in an inspirational article on how taking action can make a difference.

 In 2011, Starke County was ranked 91st out of 92 Indiana counties by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, inspiring the creation of Moving Starke County Forward (MSCF) to improve the health and wellbeing of county residents.

 “The bottom-line,” Nancy Dembowski, chair of the board for MSCF and Indiana state representative, said in the article, “is that we were formed because someone looked at these statistics and said this is unacceptable, we need to do something. When we looked at the County Health Rankings, we realized how much health statistics and the lack of quality healthcare impacted the entire community from every facet. It was education, economic development – it seeped into every aspect of the community.” 

But by organizing the community members and analyzing the data, MSCF has been able to run successful campaigns to start restoring the county to health. One example is the Moving Starke County across America campaign, a wildly successful effort to combat obesity and smoking while increasing physical activity by getting residents to log their walking, running and biking miles for a joint “walk across America” goal of 3,000 miles. With that goal reached in only two weeks, the goal was pushed back to around the world (25,000 miles), which was exceeded by the end of the event. That program is now an annual event for the county.   

By using data from the rankings, MSCF says they have been able to engage more of the community and figure out what exactly they need to improve the overall health of the community. To access the data and view your own county, visit:

Congratulations to MSCF on their hard work so far, and for serving as an inspiration for change! 

County Health Rankings & Roadmaps