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News Releases - 2016

July 28, 2016

Eight Communities Take First Step to Better Health with Pathways to a Healthy Kansas Grants from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas

Atchison, Bourbon, Crawford, Franklin, Kearny, Reno and Wichita counties, and Hoisington/northern Barton County first to receive funding

Recognizing its unique position to work with Kansas communities to establish and sustain healthy environments and lifestyles, the state's largest and local health insurer, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas, announced today a new grant program that will provide significant funding to a total of 16 communities during the next four years. In addition, company officials revealed the first eight communities to receive funding.

Pathways to a Healthy Kansas is the largest community grant program ever funded by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas. The Pathways program provides community coalitions with the tools and resources needed to remove barriers and engage their communities in ways that enable healthy eating and tobacco-free, active living to become a way of life. The grant funding for each community includes a coordination grant of $100,000, with the opportunity to apply for non-competitive implementation and achievements grants amounting to $215,000, for a total of $315,000 per community.

"We chose 'Pathways' as the name for this initiative because there are truly many paths which must converge in order for a community to build and sustain a healthy environment for residents," said Andrew C. Corbin, president/CEO. "Those various pathways form the program's focus areas of community policy, resident/community well-being, the food retail sector, health care, restaurants, schools and worksites.

"We envision Kansans living in healthy communities that provide the highest possible quality of life and well-being," he said. "The Pathways to a Healthy Kansas initiative is an outgrowth of our commitment to more strategically invest our expertise, time and dollars in building healthy communities in Kansas."

The following eight communities were selected for a three-year funding opportunity beginning  Aug. 1, 2016 and ending July 31, 2019 (local coalition coordinating the program):

To receive funding, the communities went through a thorough application process that included an on-site visit. Eligible communities were required to:

  • Be located in a semi-urban, densely-settled rural, rural or frontier county.
  • Be ranked in the bottom half of county health rankings for the state.
  • Have an active coalition or active Community Health Assessment/Improvement Plan work group.
  • Illustrate commitment from community leaders.

In addition to the grant dollars, Blue Cross is providing the communities with technical assistance for planning, evaluation, communications and measurement through partnerships with Kansas Health Institute and the Community Engagement Institute at Wichita State University. Also, elementary schools in each county will have free access to GoNoodle Plus for the duration of the funding period. GoNoodle is a website with interactive games and videos that get children moving throughout the day. The activities are designed to help children channel their physical and emotional energy for good, improving behavior, focus and achievement.

"While the intent of Pathways to Healthy Kansas is three-fold, it is centered on the idea of creating environments where the healthy choice is the easy choice to make," said Virginia Barnes, MPH, director of Blue Health Initiatives and developer of the grant program. "We want to work closely with each community to inspire long-lasting, community-wide well-being, focus on strategies that build community engagement and transform the way residents stay healthy as they work, play and interact socially, and, last but not least, incorporate more opportunities to be healthy in daily routines so that a healthy culture is cultivated now and for generations to come."

A second application process will begin in 2017 in order to identify an additional eight communities to participate in a three-year funding program from 2017 to 2020.

About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas

For nearly 75 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.


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