News Releases - 2011
Feb. 2, 2011
Three Kansas Communities Recognized with BlueCHIP® Awards for Promoting Healthy Communities
- Small Community:
Grinnell, Gove County
- Medium Community:
Hutchinson, Reno County
- Large Community:
Lawrence, Douglas County
Three communities that differ by size and geography have one important thing in common; each has taken steps to improve the health of its residents and, in the process, has earned a BlueCHIP® Award from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas (BCBSKS) and the Kansas Recreation and Park Association (KRPA).
The BlueCHIP awards were announced today during a luncheon at the 2011 KRPA Annual Conference and Trade Show at the Hyatt Regency and Century II, Wichita. In winning a BlueCHIP award, the cities of Lawrence, Hutchinson and Grinnell each received a check for $2,500.
BlueCHIP is a community health improvement program created to recognize and reward Kansas communities who encourage and support healthy lifestyles through programs, initiatives, policies and/or community-wide events.
"These communities – Lawrence, Hutchinson and Grinnell – are all doing phenomenal work and were selected for their collaboration with a variety of organizations, their programs that are changing infrastructures, and for involving community citizens of all ages," said Marlou Wegener, BCBSKS manager of community relations. "These three communities serve as outstanding examples of what happens when individuals in a community come together to work for a common goal; the result is the entire community reaps the benefits."
Doug Vance, executive director of KRPA, said he hopes the efforts of the winning cities inspire other Kansas communities to collaborate on healthy initiatives.
"The selection process was both challenging and inspiring because of the great work a lot of communities have committed to doing to improve healthy lifestyles," Vance said. "We hope this recognition serves to reward three of those communities for their great work and also helps inspire others to make healthy lifestyles a priority in the year ahead."
The BlueCHIP selection committee was comprised of representatives from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, Kansas Coordinated School Health, League of Kansas Municipalities, KRPA and BCBSKS. The committee picked one winner from each of the following categories: small (up to 20,000 residents), medium (20,000-49,999) and large (50,000 and greater).
"As the selection committee reviewed all the applications, they really kept 'CHIP' in mind," Wegener said. "They looked for community programs or initiatives supporting, ‘C,’ clean air; ‘H,’ healthy food choices; ‘I,’ initiatives to curb obesity; and, ‘P,’ physical activity."
Following is information on each of the BlueCHIP awardees:
Small Community (up to 20,000 residents) – Grinnell, Gove County
Nominated by: Sandy Moore, Grinnell GAB PRIDE, (785) 672-2410
Residents of Grinnell, a small western Kansas community of 300, continue to work together to address several community health issues, such as the need for a safe path for walking or biking and to raise awareness of nutrition and physical activity for residents of all ages.
Recent achievements include a two-phase improvement to Grinnell City Park which included a 63-mile paved walking trail and exercise stations, with much of the equipment, materials and labor donated by community businesses, government entities and residents. Another achievement is the initiation of the "Get-It-Do-It Annual Health Fest," an
opportunity for residents to receive health screenings, pick up health-related educational materials, enjoy physical fitness activities and learn more about the walking trail and exercise stations.
Partner organizations in these activities include Grinnell GAB PRIDE, Grinnell Youth PRIDE, City of Grinnell, UDS No. 291, Grinnell Middle School Student Council, K-State Research and Extension-Gove County, Friends of Grinnell, Inc., Gove County Health Department, Gove County Sheriff's Department, Grinnell Fire Department, Grinnell Senior Center, Grinnell EMS and Senior Companion Program.
Medium Community (20,000-49,999 residents) – Hutchinson, Reno County
Nominated by: Amy Conkling, Hutchinson Recreation Commission, (620) 663-6179
Organizations in Hutchinson, a town of about 41,000 residents in south central Kansas, have used the popular Salty Dog Triathlon to jump-start other fitness opportunities in their community, including educational nutrition classes, training opportunities and special fitness events such as fun runs/walks, and more. Such activities were created to help residents become more active and lose weight.
The Salty Dog and Salty Pup triathlons encourage family participation and attract some 300 participants of all ages and fitness levels. Other activities include the Firecracker 5K Run/Walk, a Polar Plunge duathlon, a trail run/walk at Dillon Nature Center, and a Boot Camp program for individuals wanting to lose 20 or more pounds. A newly-formed Vitality team collaborates to enhance physical fitness, nutrition and the overall health and well-being of Hutchinson residents.
Partner organizations include Hutchinson Recreation Commission, City of Hutchinson, Hutchinson Clinic, Promise Regional Medical Center, Cargill, DCI, Harley's Bicycles and Commerce Bank.
Large Community (50,000 and greater residents) – Lawrence, Douglas County
Nominated by: Roger Steinbrock and Janelle Martin, Lawrence Parks and Recreation Department and Douglas County CHIP, (785) 832-3458
Lawrence, a community of 92,000 in northeast Kansas, is a leader in the state on providing access to programs and activities promoting healthy lifestyles to its citizens, and also has implemented policy and supported initiatives to ensure the success of healthy programs. From walking trails to walking programs, and workplace smoking ordinances to youth
fitness programs, the community has benefited from a well-developed coalition of representatives from the health/medical community, educational institutions, government entities, and agencies associated with healthy lifestyle initiatives.
Achievements of the coalition include more than 70 miles of bike lanes, 450 programs and activities aimed at getting residents active, and a workplace smoking ordinance in effect since July 1, 2004. On the Move, a school district-wide program encompasses all grades and encourages students to be active. It has grown from a single, annual event to monthly activities, supported by each school's wellness committee.
Organizations in the coalition include City of Lawrence Parks and Recreation Department, Douglas County Community Health Improvement Partnership, Lawrence Public Schools Coordinated School Health Council and LiveWell Lawrence.
About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. BCBSKS is the state's largest health insurer, serving all Kansas counties except Johnson and Wyandotte.
About Kansas Recreation and Park Association
Kansas Recreation and Park Association is a non-profit, professional corporation dedicated to the promotion of healthy lifestyles in Kansas communities through the wise use of recreation and stewardship of parks and natural resources. KRPA is comprised of citizens and park and recreation professionals who serve millions of Kansans and tourists at parks, open spaces and recreation facilities, and through healthy programs for children, adults and senior citizens.
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