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News Releases - 2017

July 19, 2017

Eight Communities Selected for Pathways to a Healthy Kansas Grant Program Offered by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas

Group of Atwood, Bird City, Colby and St. Francis, town of Chanute and counties of Cowley, Dickinson, Geary, Harvey, Lyon and Seward chosen for funding

Eight communities spread out across Kansas but with a common focus of wanting to build sustainable, healthier communities have been selected for a major grant program offered by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas. The group of towns of Atwood, Bird City, Colby and St. Francis (in Thomas, Rawlins and Cheyenne counties), the town of Chanute (in Neosho County), along with the counties of Cowley, Dickinson, Geary, Harvey, Lyon and  Seward, have been named Pathways to a Healthy Kansas communities for 2017-2020.

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 $400,000, for a total of $500,000 per community.

"We are excited to name our second group of Pathways communities and look forward to working with them as they set out to build and sustain healthy environments while encouraging healthy lifestyles for their residents," said Andrew C. Corbin, president/CEO.

"We envision Kansans living in healthy communities that provide the highest possible quality of life and well-being. As the state's largest health insurer, we are well-positioned to understand the barriers to good health that Kansans face," 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 helping remove those barriers and build healthy communities in Kansas."

The following eight communities were selected for a three-year funding opportunity beginning Aug. 1, 2017 and ending July 31, 2020 (local coalition coordinating the program):

  • Atwood, Bird City, Colby and St. Francis (Northwest Collaborative)
  • Chanute (Energize Chanute!/Chanute Recreation Commission)
  • Cowley County (RISE Cowley)
  • Dickinson County (Quality of Life Coalition)
  • Geary County (Live Well Geary County)
  • Harvey County (Healthy Harvey Coalition)
  • Lyon County (Healthier Lyon County)
  • Seward County (Liberal Area Coalition for Families)

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, or be a community with a population of less than 75,000 in an urban county.
  • Have an active coalition or active Community Health Assessment/Improvement Plan work group.
  • Illustrate commitment from community leaders.
  • Be within the 103-county service area of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas (all Kansas counties except Johnson and Wyandotte).

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. Additional technical partners include WorkWell Kansas, The Public Health Law Center and Thrive Allen County.

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.

"The intent of Pathways is to help communities create 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. "There are truly many paths which much converge in order for a community to build and sustain a healthy environment for their residents. That is why the Pathways program focuses on community policy, resident/community well-being, the food retail sector, health care, restaurants, schools and worksites.

"Building communities where residents stay healthy as they work, play and interact socially, both now and for generations to come, is the ultimate Pathways goal," she said.

The eight communities selected during the first round of Pathways funding (2016-2019) were: Atchison, Bourbon, Crawford, Franklin, Kearny, Reno and Wichita counties, along with Hoisington & northern Barton County.

About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas

For 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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