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Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas, Kansas Association for Youth Alumni Network Award $85,000 in Be the Spark Grants

KAY clubs encourage peers to live more active lives


Topeka (May 9, 2022) – Nineteen Kansas Association for Youth (KAY) Clubs across the state are sharing nearly $85,000 in Be the Spark grants to create or improve places in their communities where teens can be more physically active. The recipients were announced during an event today at the Kansas State High School Activities Association (KSHSAA), Topeka.

The Be the Spark program was originally created in 2017 as a partnership between Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas (BCBSKS) and the Kansas Association for Youth Alumni Network (KAYAN). Since then, BCBSKS has provided KAYAN with an additional $150,000 in funds to administer the two-year program in which mini-grants are given to KAY clubs across the state to implement initiatives to engage their peers through projects that support both physical and mental wellness.

The KAY clubs selected to receive the mini-grants are:

  • Atchison Middle School
  • Cherryvale Middle/High School
  • Clearwater Middle School
  • Cunningham High School
  • El Dorado Middle School
  • Goddard High School
  • Halstead High School
  • Hodgeman County High School
  • Holton Middle School
  • Marysville High School
  • Paola Middle School
  • Remington Middle School
  • Republic County Jr/Sr High School
  • Royal Valley High School
  • Santa Fe Trail High School, Overbrook
  • Sublette High School
  • Thunder Ridge High School, Kensington
  • Gordon Parks Academy, Wichita
  • Yates Center High School

Applicants went through a rigorous selection process which included submission of letters of intent, surveying student bodies, research and partnering with community organizations.

“The Be the Spark grants will allow our KAY Clubs to live out the mission of leadership and service to their schools and communities,” said Annie Diederich, KSHSAA Assistant Executive Director – KAY State Director. “The opportunities these Blue Cross grants provide for our young adults to go through a process of planning a project, creating a budget and then most importantly, following through to complete the project is simply incredible.” 

“The partnership between Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas and KAYAN has given students the opportunity to dream big and know that adults throughout the state believe in them. This is a life experience that creates opportunities for them to learn many valuable skills while focusing on the importance of physical health, mental health, and the impact of nutritional eating options,” said Katlin Bryan, Be the Spark project coordinator. “It is inspiring to see the passion that these KAY club members have to make a sustainable plan that will help improve the physical and mental health of their peers as well as their communities. These students chose to give of their time to be a part of something bigger than themselves.”

While the awarded KAY clubs brought forth different ideas, they were similar in that all focused on getting their peers moving more and connect the benefit of physical health to improved mental health. Some clubs will use their grant dollars to improve existing walking trails, create a calming room, while others will install gaga ball pits and other outdoor equipment.

"Blue Cross loves being a part of these grants. It is inspiring to see the enthusiasm that these KAY club members have for improving the health and well-being of their fellow students,” said Virginia Barnes, director of Blue Health Initiatives for the state's largest and only local health insurer. "Kids can make a difference and these area KAY clubs have put a lot of time and energy into developing long-lasting plans to improve their lifetime physical and mental well-being.”


About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas

For more than 80 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 Blue Shield Association and is the state’s largest insurer, serving all Kansas counties except Johnson and Wyandotte. For more information, visit bcbsks.com.

About Kansas Association for Youth

The Kansas Association for Youth (KAY) is a character-building, leadership-training, service program directed by the Kansas State High School Activities Association. This nationally acclaimed organization provides students an opportunity to learn to assume their citizenship responsibilities and to enrich their personalities through well-organized programs, projects and parties. Programs educate, inspire and direct members into carefully planned service projects. These projects emphasize four areas of service - school, community, nation and world. KAY is a student association unique to Kansas. The KSHSAA proudly offers this activity to Kansas students, through its member schools, as a means to "make a world of difference" for current and future generations. For more information, visit http://www.kshsaa.org/Public/KAY/Main.cfm.

About Kansas Association for Youth Alumni Network

The Kansas Association of Youth Alumni Network was founded in 2012 as an opportunity for KAY alumni to connect with one another and continue their support of the KAY organization. The goal and vision of KAYAN is to preserve and maintain the history of the KAY program, utilize personal resources and talent to develop a strong legacy for the program, maintain the pride, spirit and fellowship of the KAY organization, and promote the further growth of clubs as they serve school, community, nation and the world. For more information on KAYAN, visit www.kayankansas.org/information.