Governor Ernie Fletcher’s Communications Office
Governor Fletcher Spreads Get Healthy Kentucky Message in Owsley County

Press Release Date:  Friday, March 09, 2007  
Contact Information:  Jodi Whitaker

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Governor Ernie Fletcher today visited Owsley County High School in Booneville to spread the Get Healthy Kentucky message to Kentucky teenagers to get serious about physical activity, nutrition and saying no to tobacco.

Following this advice is key to healthy living and ensuring a good quality of life well into adulthood, the Governor told the group of more than 200 students and faculty gathered in the Kids on Stage room at the high school.

“I want all Kentuckians to live well and have the best possible quality of life, particularly our young people,” said Governor Fletcher. “I hope each student took away from this the knowledge that the choices they are making now will affect them later in life.”

Sue Brunk, who serves as the school nurse at Owsley County Elementary and High Schools, received a GHK Certificate of Recognition at the event for contributions to the health of her community. In her role as nurse, Brunk spends mornings at the elementary school and afternoons at the high school. In addition, she helped secure a health initiatives grant; scheduled health fairs and health checks for students and staff; partnered with teachers on encouraging healthy eating and exercise habits among students; worked with athletic coaches on players’ nutrition; and scheduled exercise sessions for students and staff.

“We are seeking out people like Sue Brunk all over Kentucky - people who share our vision and our dedication to Get Healthy Kentucky,” said Governor Fletcher.

Get Healthy Kentucky is a statewide wellness initiative that incorporates physical activity, nutrition and tobacco cessation and prevention components. GHK has created an opportunity for individuals and groups to have a one-stop, central location for information and resources that will improve the quality of life for Kentuckians and help prevent chronic illnesses like diabetes and heart disease.

GHK is designed for Kentukians of all ages and includes access to reliable, unbiased information on the GHK Web site, The site provides information about the Governor’s Challenge program, an incentive-based fitness program designed to help participants set personal fitness goals and track progress online.

“As a whole, Kentucky has work to do to improve our health,” said Health and Family Services Cabinet Secretary Mark D. Birdwhistell. “The Fletcher administration not only understands what has to be done to reverse these negative health trends, but also has created this comprehensive, motivational program where people can get all the tools and information they need to get healthy.”

Kentuckians have long battled high rates of obesity, physical inactivity and tobacco use. However, Governor Fletcher said today, things have started to change.

“My administration is addressing these problems through programs and policy decisions,” said Governor Fletcher.

Here’s a look at a few of the recent accomplishments:

  • A smoking cessation benefit in public employees’ health plans and Medicaid
  • An increased number of anti-smoking ordinances, including smoke-free state government buildings and 13 city/county ordinances across the state that prohibit smoking in most public facilities
  • Expanded newborn metabolic screenings, increasing the number of screenings given to newborns (which test for metabolic disorders) from four to 29
  • The creation of diabetes Centers of Excellence in six areas in Kentucky, which will link patients with local health departments, health educators, hospitals and other resources in their community to provider better disease management for those living with diabetes
  • Improved health department facilities through infrastructure improvement grants awarded to 26 health departments across Kentucky, totaling $10 million
  • Recent changes to school nutrition programs. The changes resulted in Kentucky receiving an A- on a national report card measuring the quality of nutrition in schools. Kentucky was the only state to receive this grade.
  • An increased commitment to preventing a bioterrorism attack. Kentucky is now ranked third in the nation for bioterrorism preparedness. 

“I’m extremely proud of the progress we’ve made – and the commitment all Kentuckians have shown – to improving the health status of our commonwealth,” said Governor Fletcher. “Now, with Get Healthy Kentucky, we have structured our resources to better inform the public and form a plan to change the wellness culture of our state.”

For more information about Get Healthy Kentucky or to participate in the Governor’s Challenge, visit The Web site contains information to help Kentuckians lead healthier, more active lifestyles and information on incentives to motivate Kentuckians to continue to challenge themselves.

For the past several months, the governor has traveled the state promoting Get Healthy Kentucky, stopping in Owensboro, Paintsville, Ashland, Elizabethtown, Louisville and Hyden. The events have drawn more than 1,000 people.