Politics & Government

Wichita’s an All-America City again thanks to police, League 42, Wellness Coalition

League 42, Open Streets ICT, the Health and Wellness Coalition and the police department propelled the city of Wichita to its first All-America City award in 10 years.

Wichita was one of 10 cities to win the award nationwide after a weekend competition in Denver.

The award is given by the National Civic League and honors cities that address local issues through innovative programs and civic engagement.

“This award memorializes the great projects we can develop when we bring together citizens, businesses, governments and non-profits,” Mayor Jeff Longwell said in a statement announcing the win. ”At the end of the day, our entire community benefits from the collaborative effort.”

Wichita’s 2019 application highlighted baseball, community events, health and community policing.

League 42 — The youth baseball league operating out of McAdams Park is named for the uniform number of Jackie Robinson, the first African-American to break the color barrier in Major League Baseball. In five years, League 42 has expanded to more than 50 teams and 600 youth, providing structure, support and educational opportunities.

Open Streets ICT — This annual event closes more than four miles of Douglas to traffic and turns the street over to bikes and pedestrians. The event features a 5k run, a block party, games, an art show, food trucks and other activities.

Health and Wellness Coalition — This group has been working to encourage food equity and healthy eating in poor neighborhoods. It has worked with the Wichita school district to increase the breakfast program by 1,100 meals a day, a 45 percent increase.

Wichita Police Department — The department was included for its efforts to improve community relations through the creation of a citizen review board, requiring body cameras and implementing crisis intervention training for officers.

Wichita previously won the All-America City award in 1961, 1993, 1999 and 2009.

Other cities named All-America cities this year are Battle Creek, Mich.; Cornelius, Ore.; Dubuque, Iowa; Gothenburg, Neb.; Lancaster and Mission, Texas; West Hollywood and Rancho Cordoba, Calif. and Rock Hill, S.C.

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Senior Journalist Dion Lefler has been providing award-winning coverage of local government, politics and business in Wichita for 20 years. Dion hails from Los Angeles, where he worked for the LA Daily News, the Pasadena Star-News and other papers. He’s a father of twins, director of lay servant ministries in the United Methodist Church and plays second base for the Old Cowtown vintage baseball team.