WARSAW — For Betsy Hines, an outdoor enthusiast, moving to Kosciusko County has been a godsend.
Hines, a Frankfort native and Indiana State University graduate, relocated to Warsaw in March 2015, and now she is near her parents, Doug and Lisa Hines, who relocated three years before her, buying a house on Lake Wawasee and a boat to go with it. “I spend most weekends there, tubing, kayaking and paddle boarding,” she said.
In Warsaw, the former Indiana State cheerleader frequents the Crossfit Haymaker Gym. “I try to get in at least a few days a week,” she commented.
When Betsy Hines was growing up in Frankfort, she remembers playing sports and games outside with the other kids in her neighborhood. These days, as the Purdue Extension community wellness coordinator for Fulton County, she is raising awareness about the health issues associated with increasingly sedentary lifestyles.
“I played outside a lot,” she said. “I was always pretty active.” Especially when it came to gymnastics, which, Hines remembered, “consumed my life.” At Indiana State she chose to study health administration, a new major. “I wanted to do something related to health care, to help others live better, healthier lives.”
After graduation, Hines returned to Frankfort, where she worked in the preparedness and medical reserve corps of the Clinton County Health Department, helping the community prepare for natural disasters and disease outbreaks.
Since being named Fulton County wellness coordinator, she has been getting to know its people and organizations and identifying ways to improve the overall health of the community.
“The average teen spends five to seven minutes outside,” Hines noted. To combat this statistic, and its attendant health problems, she is working with schools, parks and street departments, Woodlawn Hospital, the Downtown Partnership and others to get the community more active and eating better.
Hines organized an active living workshop that included a walk audit, where she and a group of civic leaders and residents walked a mile around Grace United Methodist Church, looking at sidewalks, buildings and lighting to determine “would it be safe and inviting to walk that route if you were in a wheelchair or a little kid?” Her goal is to create a safe environment where people can walk to the downtown and children can walk or ride a bike to school. There is also a “Walk to School Day” in the works for October, where police and fire departments will “help walk the kids to school to show it’s safe.”
Hines is also working to get bike racks installed around downtown to encourage bike riding. She would like to see the Rochester downtown connected to the Nickel Plate Trail, “so people can ride all the way through.”
Fulton County has a higher need for SNAP benefits than Kosciusko, and in an effort to provide healthier food choices for those using SNAP, Hines hopes to bring the necessary machines to the Rochester Farmer’s Market, to process transactions. “It’s low cost and easy to implement,” she asserted. Hines believes this would also benefit the farmers.
She is also working with United Ministries to develop a list of healthier options at food pantries.