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UPDATE | LiveWell hosts community event to share unique perspectives of life in rural Kansas

Updated: Mar 7, 2020

Shaping the future of Rawlins County, a community event

One participant will win a $500 scholarship


Saturday, March 7, 2020 - With respect to recent events in Atwood and with heavy hearts, we've decided to cancel the "Our Community's Story: Shaping the Future of Rawlins County", community story-sharing event. Plans are being made to reschedule the event for a later date. Registrants should have received email notification regarding the change in schedule; additionally, notice will be given as soon as a new date is secured.

Thank you for your understanding. Please contact LiveWell Director Travis Rickford at (785) 460-8177 or


Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020 - Young adults and community members can sign up for a drawing to win a $500 higher education scholarship by attending a community “story-sharing” event in Atwood. The “Our Community’s Story: Shaping the Future of Rawlins County” event will take place from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. Monday, March 16, at the Rawlins County Jr./Sr. High School, 100 N. 8th Street, Atwood.

Registration for the free event includes a box lunch. Participation is limited to 150 people.


In 2019, LiveWell Northwest Kansas (LiveWell) partnered with the University of Kansas’ Center for Public Partnerships and Research (CPPR) as part of their “Our Tomorrows” campaign to collect and share stories of what life in northwest Kansas is like. The stories centered on the ability of families to thrive, or merely survive.

“LiveWell partnered with area residents and youth to collect stories from families throughout the region,” explained LiveWell Director Travis Rickford. “Additionally, a middle-school student worked with local employers and programs to collect over 100 stories himself. As a result of his work, a $1,000 donation was made to his school in Atwood and the program gained state-wide and national recognition.”

The successful “Our Tomorrows” story-collecting work in Rawlins County also garnered interest from early childcare and health organizers at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, an international organization observed by the United Nations, and was featured at the Governor’s Symposium on early childhood education in October 2019.

“The stories that were gathered last year relate to the value of frontier life and rural living, economic hardships and community supports. These stories of hope and struggle help us gather wisdom about the ways in which things could, and should, be going better, and to shape the future of Rawlins County and the greater northwest Kansas community. By attending the event in Atwood on March 16, people will learn how families thrive and about the disrupters that can prevent this from happening.”

The March 16, “Our Community’s Story: Shaping the Future of Rawlins County,” is a youth-led event and will highlight stories in Rawlins County.


“Youth involvement has been a major factor in the success of the “Our Tomorrows” program and as our leaders of tomorrow, we hope to pass on valuable information that will not only benefit our next generation personally but can ensure our community’s ability to thrive in the future,” says Rickford.

Not only will the event be facilitated by youth, but to encourage more participation, a drawing to win a $500 scholarship will take place.

Rickford says that the winner must be present to accept the scholarship in person and any child or adult in attendance may register to win. The scholarship may be used at any time, either personally or gifted to another individual, and may be used at any accredited higher learning institute.


The “Our Tomorrows” project spearheaded by CPPR allows people across the state to share important stories about their life and interactions. Each story allows for a new learning opportunity and can be used to shape policy and programming decisions in small communities across the state and across the country.

Through the “Our Tomorrows” project, people get the opportunity to share and reflect, and CPPR is able to hear new, unique perspectives. Stories are added to CPPR’s story-based research tool called SenseMaker, and patterns are examined allowing for new understandings about what families need to thrive, not merely survive.

Rickford, explains that stories, patterns and data collected from the Sensemaking tool will have many implications—internationally, regionally and even locally.

“The Sensemaking platform will help us acknowledge life barriers that people encounter,” he says, “and better understand the needs of our residents and steps people can take to make stronger, more thriving communities.”


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