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Wichita organization says to engage, not shame when it comes to vaccinations

Published: Jul. 29, 2021 at 9:39 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - In Kansas, nearly 1.4 million people have received at least one dose of the vaccine. That is 48-percent of the state’s population, and 42-percent of Kansas are considered fully vaccinated.

The Kansas Leadership Center (KLC) is a non-profit organization that focuses on empowering local leaders to solve local problems, and they say the method of shaming people who are not vaccinated won’t help solve the problem.

For the past year, the organization has taken the lead role in the ‘Kansas Beats the Virus’ initiative. KLC President Ed O’Malley calls it an effort to bring Kansans together.

“We end the pandemic by working together, across divides, across divisions. we need to find ways to engage together to solve this. that’s the heart of what we do here at KLC,” said O’Malley.

He says the effort has impacted more than 200,000 Kansans, with several communities finding ways to slow the spread of the virus.

“Progress is made when we engage people, when we engage them in a way that is based around curiosity and learning. And we honor where they are, and we engage them in a way that creates the conditions for them to maybe make a different choice. But shaming, shaming doesn’t work. Engaging works,” said O’Malley.

While shaming is not a method encouraged by the KLC, experts in leadership, like Wichita State University Vice President Strategic Engagement Kaye Monk Morgan, share what is effective in bringing people together.

“Information, empathy, and understanding are the key pieces of being able to really articulate to folks why this is important, and understanding what are the concerns. until we’ve done that, we’re not going to make progress,” said Monk-Morgan.

“When we engage in an accusatory way, we create the conditions for a wall getting higher and higher. So, one tip is to lead with questions. Another tip is to really watch our own assumptions. We often assume things about others. we assume things about their intent, that frankly, is usually not accurate,” O’Malley said.

He hopes Kansans can work together to bridge the divide.

If you are looking to get the COVID-19 vaccine, click here to find a location near you.

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