Big View participants share Kansas Beats the Virus highlights in Zoom meeting

Jeanette Siemens
Pratt Tribune
Sharing experiences and ideas about Kansas Beats the Virus virtually last Monday were (from top left clockwise) Circles Director Kate Cummings, Lisa Perez-Miller, David Schmidt, Morgan Hawkins, Pratt Chief of Police Nate Humble and Don Peters.

Last Monday, Circles of Hope conducted the first 2021 Big View conversation. Those of you that are familiar with Circles and the Big View know that 4 times a year we conduct a community conversation on topics that not only touch the lives of Circle Leaders but everyone in the community. Last Monday's topic was about the Kansas Beats the Virus initiative.

The Kansas Leadership Center, in partnership with the State of Kansas, developed the Kansas Beats the Virus statewide initiative. The purpose was to engage lay people, those not with governmental agencies or representative of, in thinking about ways to slow the spread and of course, eventually stop the virus in Kansas. Participating communities were asked to initiate 10 conversations locally by the end of December. 

The Chamber's Leadership League participated with Lisa Perez Miller and myself facilitating the group discussions. Of course all had to be done virtually. We had hoped for 10 conversations in the community but ended up with a darn good six. We heard from several of those Monday evening. Some activities are completed and others continuing. Those sharing experience were Nate Humble, Chief of Police, Morgan Hawkins, Don Peters and David Schmidt.

Chief Humble talked about some of the issues that faced most organizations that work with the public which included but not limited to, preparing with how the virus situations would be handled, purchasing equipment, etc. He noted it has been very trying for both the officers and their families as COVID has touched so many of them. He stressed that everyone has had to learn what and how to do things during this time for which we have no experience in managing. All in all things have gone well, but obviously taken a toll. In addition to issues of protection for officers interacting with people infected, and the unknowns of people from out of state, many court hearings have had to be delayed which causes concerns. But overall Chief Humble feels we have a good handle on things and things are going as well as can be expected.

David Schmidt told about the group of STUCCO students that came together with a great project in a short amount of time before Christmas break. They used different color ribbons to illustrate how quickly the virus can be spread. Nine students wore one color ribbon which indicated they were "positive". Then they gave ribbons to those that came into contact with them at varying degrees of exposure. By the end of the day the nine students showed 130 students could have been affected. It was quite an eye opener for them and Mr. Schmidt believes it helped made a difference. The school expected to see a spike following the Christmas holidays but that didn't happen and he attributes some to creating more awareness and participation by the public. The project showed what the kids are capable of and the opportunity to work with the adults was a good experience.

Morgan Hawkins worked The Young Professionals on what they entitled "My Why" campaign. They choose to look at ways to highlight reasons people choose to wear a mask as well to encourage others to do the same. Several community members have gone live on FB to say why they wear their mask and everyone is encouraged to upload the filter over their FB page. So far 45 people are using the filter on their FB page and they hope to see those numbers increase along with sharing why it's important to wear a mask

Don Peters worked with a group from the Presbyterian Church that sent letters to the other churches in town which included a beautiful prayer. Letters were also sent to members of the congregation including the prayer AND the church also made their Zoom account available to church members as well as others in the community, so they could contact and interact with family members located elsewhere during the holidays. In addition to those activities they sent "thank you" letters to all the healthcare workers in Pratt County.

These are just a few ways people in the community have come together and supported doing the right things during this COVID time. Again, just another reason this is such a great community in which to live.