News Releases - 2014

January 28, 2014

Six Kansas Communities Receive BlueCHIP® Awards for Promoting Healthy Environments

What do Baldwin City, Eudora, Garden City, Manhattan, Ottawa and Thomas County all have in common? Not only a collaborative nature that has resulted in healthier communities but also a BlueCHIP® Award from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas (BCBSKS) and the Kansas Recreation and Park Association (KRPA).

In its fourth year, BlueCHIP is a community health improvement program created to recognize and reward Kansas communities that encourage and support healthy lifestyles through programs, initiatives, policies and/or community-wide events. The BlueCHIP Awards were announced today during a luncheon at the 2014 KRPA Annual Conference and Trade Show at the Hyatt Regency Wichita.

In winning a BlueCHIP Award, Baldwin City, Eudora, Garden City, Manhattan, Ottawa and Thomas County will each receive $2,500 to assist residents in continuing their efforts to improve the health of their communities.

"These six communities deserve to be recognized for the extensive effort each one is making to improve the health and quality of life of their respective residents," said Marlou Wegener, BCBSKS manager of community relations. "By working together, individual residents and organizations are implementing multifaceted plans to increase physical activity, improve nutritional offerings and promote clean air."

Erika DeVore, executive director of KRPA, said that KRPA takes pride in recognizing communities that are actively working to improve the collective health of their residents.
"BlueCHIP Awards recognize and reward Kansas communities that encourage and support healthy lifestyles through programs, initiatives, policies and/or community-wide events," DeVore said. "They are increasing the quality of life for their residents and providing healthy lifestyles opportunities. We are proud to recognize these six communities that are committed to creating a healthy environment."

The BlueCHIP selection committee was comprised of representatives from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, Kansas Healthy Schools, Kansas State Department of Education, KRPA and BCBSKS.

Following is information on each of the BlueCHIP awardees:

Baldwin City, Douglas County

Nominated by: Stevens Friend, Baldwin City Recreation Commission, (785) 594-3670, steve-AT-baldwinrec-DOT-org.

Intended use of award: Expand the wellness assessments the city began in 2013 into a year-long activity. During the summer of 2013, interested residents received measurements for percentage of body fat, BMI, weight, circumference and resting heart rate. Weight loss identified as the primary concern and general counseling on diet and exercise was provided.

Partner organizations: Baldwin City Recreation Commission, USD 348, Lawrence Memorial Hospital, Baker University, City of Baldwin City, and Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism.

City of Eudora, Douglas County

Nominated by: Gary Scott, City of Eudora, (785) 542-2453, gscott-AT-cityofeudoraks-DOT-gov.

Intended use of award: Offer two, rather than one, community health fairs, allowing more residents access to free health and wellness information and health-related activities. The award also will be used to fast-track planning, development and implementation of a community meltdown program to encourage weight loss.

Partner organizations: City of Eudora, Eudora School District (USD 491), Douglas County Health Department, The Bridge – a network of agencies whose programs and services make a difference in Eudora – and the Eudora Chamber of Commerce.


Garden City, Finney County

Nominated by: Donna Gerstner, Garden City Recreation Commission, (620) 276-1200, donna-DOT-gerstner-AT-gardencityks-DOT-us.

Intended use of award: Add amenities to the existing trail system such as signage and benches. Garden City boasts an extensive trails and sidewalk system, thanks in part to the city passing a complete streets ordinance which commits staff each year to find funding to continue development of the trails system.

Partner organizations: Finney County Health Coalition, USD 457 and Garden City Recreation Commission.

Manhattan, Riley County

Nominated by: Katy Oestman, Riley County Health Department, (785) 776-4779, koestman-AT-rileycountyks-DOT-gov.

Intended use of award: Continue to cultivate access to healthy food options by purchasing equipment needed to offer healthier food choices at the City of Manhattan's concession stands located at three community pools, Sunset Zoo and several ball fields.

Partner organizations: Riley County Health Department, Riley County K-State Research and Extension, Greater Manhattan Community Foundation, Mercy Regional Health Center, City of Manhattan, USD 383-Manhattan/Ogden School District, Fort Riley Public Health, Kansas State Master of Public Health Program, Manhattan Broadcasting and the Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce.

Ottawa, Franklin County

Nominated by: Tommy Sink, Ottawa Recreation Commission and Play Task Force member, (785) 242-1939, tommy-DOT-sink-AT-sbcglobal-DOT-com.

Intended use of award: Increase the interest of trail walking and physical activity amongst children by building "pods of play" along existing trails. These play areas could include tire climbers, small climbing areas or swings, and are meant to give children a reason to walk, bike or jog a little further or a little longer.

Partner organizations: City of Ottawa, Play Task Force, Franklin County Health Department, ECKAN, Ottawa Library, Communities in Schools and USD 290.

Thomas County

Nominated by: Sue Evans, Northwest Kansas Council on Substance Abuse, Inc., (785) 460-8177, nwksrpc-AT-st-tel-DOT-net.

Intended use of award: Continue to support access to healthy food by funding a part-time community garden coordinator to oversee the Thomas County Community Garden. Produce from the garden is given to low income families through the local food bank, a regional domestic violence shelter and a child care center.

Partner organizations: USD 315, USD 316, USD 317, Colby Community College, Thomas County Health Department, Thomas County Extension Office, Citizens Medical Center, Inc., City of Colby, Thomas County Community Foundation and Colby/Thomas County Chamber of Commerce.

About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas

For more than 70 years, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas has built a reputation of trust with its members and contracting providers by providing outstanding customer service while quickly and accurately processing claims; fairly administering benefit plans and contracts; offering programs, services and tools to help members improve or maintain their health; and operating under the highest ethical standards while being good stewards of premium dollars. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association and is the state’s largest insurer, serving all Kansas counties except Johnson and Wyandotte. For more information, visit

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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